With 46,000 searches last year, a potential new route from Billund to Madrid has been identified as this “Skyscanner for Business-anna.aero Unserved Route of the Week” – a powerful analysis based on aspirational data captured from the Skyscanner.net flight comparison site used by +50 million unique visitors per month.
Speaking on the sidelines of last week’s 138th Slot Conference in Hamburg, Jesper Klausholm, Billund Airport’s Head of Airline Relations and Marketing, was confident of the route’s potential to succeed.
“There is a solid base of business traffic on the city pair, even Ryanair used to see high proportions of business travellers on the route [which carried 30,000 passengers annually]. Also there are lots of Danes living in Spain – they previously used to route, via the Madrid hub, to get to their homes in the sun.”
There is significantly more traffic originating from the Spanish end of this route ‒ a 69/31 split, presumably because Billund hosts the original Legoland theme park, visited annually by some two million families and fans.
The route looks like an obvious option for Iberia (or Iberia Express), which is the #1 airline at Madrid with a 44% share in terms of weekly seats and from where it operates services to 119 destinations (according to OAG schedules data for the week commencing 28 June).
However, Iberia does not presently feature in the top-five airlines between Spain and Denmark, (Norwegian, SAS, Ryanair, Vueling and Primera Air hold these positions), flying just a daily service from Madrid to Copenhagen. But if it did operate the route, the IAG airline would be able to leverage significant connections at its biggest hub (especially to Latin America) which could be of great interest to Lego’s 4,000 headquarters staff in Billund who need to reach its factory in Mexico, one of its main global manufacturing sites, and currently undergoing a near-$1 billion investment.
Madrid’s second largest carrier (with a 15% seat share) Air Europa, is unlikely to be interested in Billund as it currently only offers a weekly flight between Madrid and Copenhagen. Perhaps the potential route is more likely to be picked-up by the #3 carrier (11% share), Ryanair, which currently offers a network of 39 destinations from the Madrid, including its own daily service to Copenhagen. Significantly it would also mark a return to the route which it previously served between November 2006 and October 2008.
Considering the Danish end of the route, Billund’s largest carrier (21% share) is also Ryanair, which flies to seven destinations from Billund this summer, including three in Spain – Malaga, Alicante and Girona.
Billund’s #2 airline (12%), Primera Air, is also a possible operator on the city pair as it is already one of the biggest carriers between the two countries.
The airline’s 16-destination network from Billund includes four Spanish cities – Palma de Mallorca, Malaga, Almeria and Menorca. While Primera Air used to focus on the charter market, it is increasingly diversifying its business model towards becoming a quasi-LCC operation, so this type of city break/business destination may well fit into these planned changes.