Earlier this week Transavia announced the closure of its Munich base at the end of 2017, bringing to an end a small-scale attempt to expand AirFrance-KLM’s LCC reach outside of its home markets. Using RDC's Apex product, we can see in detail why this experiment was unsuccessful.
Querying RDC Apex for the weighted average fares from all Transavia (and Transavia France) bases in 2016 shows that the base under-performed. Observed fares of €61 compare to €81 at next-best performer Eindhoven and €104 at Amsterdam. These fares from Germany include a €7.50 departing passenger tax on short-haul flights. In the Netherlands no such tax exists.
Furthermore, if we consult RDC Apex’s Route Performance module we find that for an average sector length route on a 737-800 (with no airport charges) the average fare required to break even would have been €77 (+tax), which suggests all Transavia bases are at least marginally profitable. The sole exception being Munich with an implied 35% loss, even before airport charges are considered.
Figure 1: Average Fares by Transavia base in 2016 (RDCApex.com)
Were there any routes that worked?
Examining network-wide fares for Transavia shows just two routes from Munich (of 24 observed in 2016) above the average trend – Venice and Pisa, both relatively short distance, summer-only operations. Seemingly, the further Transavia flew, the worse the fares from Munich became. Fares to the Canary Islands (visible as the three small blue dots to the bottom right of the chart below) were some of the lowest fares across the network. RDC Apex’s Schedules module shows seven airlines operating regularly between Munich and the Canaries last year. Of these, Transavia flew the fewest departures (37), which may explain why it failed to gain a foothold in what is typically a high yield market.
Figure 2: Average Fares, sector length and seat capacity by Transavia Route in 2016 (RDCApex.com)
Macro level view
This characteristic of not providing sufficient capacity to make inroads into the market can be seen at the macro level too. Taking the airline’s key markets from Munich, which are Italy and Spain (40% of total capacity), we can see that Transavia was just one of fifteen airlines to operate more than 10,000 seats to either of the two countries. Despite basing four aircraft at the airport and operating to thirteen destinations between the two countries, Transavia managed to gain just 5% of the capacity share and ranked 5th out of those 15 airlines.
Figure 3: Seat Capacity from Munich to Spain and Italy in 2016 by airline (RDCApex.com)
Comparing Munich’s performance
Using Apex’s new Profit and Loss module, we can see how Munich’s performance compares to the rest of Transavia’s network. Of the 105 airports that saw at least 20 Transavia flights in 2016, Munich ranks only 4th from bottom in terms of profit per passenger.
Figure 4: All Transavia airports by profit per passenger (RDCApex.com)
When you put the continued difficulty to penetrate markets or match the yields achieved in the Netherlands and France alongside the well-publicised disputes with unions at AirFrance-KLM over the expansion of Transavia, it is not difficult to see why airline management decided to cut ties with this experiment. Basing four aircraft at Munich was not enough to make an impact in such a highly competitive market, and the airline should be praised for its swiftness in cutting its losses to concentrate on its strong home markets back in France and the Netherlands.