Airline Lifespan – Part II

In the first part of this study we analysed all the Spanish airlines that have marked an era in the history of aviation – be it because of their successes or their failures. The results showed the low probability of airline survival in Spain, with only 21% of airlines founded still in activity.

We also posed the question of whether this ratio was exclusive to Spanish airlines or a trend common to their European counterparts?

After reviewing more than 800 airlines from a total of 17 countries selected for their relevance and importance in European aviation, we have concluded that Spain is the country with the lowest airline survival ratio. Portugal – despite the fact that its airlines are not very well-known amongst the wider public – is currently at the top of the league, with a 58% survival ratio. Lower down the table, Spain is joined by Italy, Belgium, Greece and Sweden.


Horizontal axis: total number of airlines in the country’s aviation history.
Vertical axis:: % of airline survival obtained after dividing the number of airlines still in activity by the historical total. 
Bubble size: proportional to the total number of active airlines.

Europe in figures

Although Germany, France and the United Kingdom lead the European economy, the survival ratios of their airlines do not come out on top. These countries may have the highest number of airlines (historical and current) but their survival ratios stand between 34% and 40%. It is also surprising that Sweden places very low down the chart. Its ratio stands at 26%, a very low figure compared to the economic and business level of the country.

The smaller, and in a sense, more modest countries, with a less prominent presence in the aviation market, have known better how to manage the risks in this very fast-evolving sector which is subject to all kinds of fluctuations. In spite of having fewer historic airlines, the survival rates of the airlines of Portugal, Ireland, Switzerland, Austria, Poland and most Nordic nations fall between 38% and 58%. The number of active airlines per country in this group varies between 6 and 15.

While the economic crisis has been a worldwide phenomenon and has indiscriminately affected all the European countries to varying degrees, that is no reason why we should stand out in such a negative fashion. Some Spanish airlines have been launched with an obvious lack of planning, with no preliminary market research. Perhaps there has been a lack of aviation sector knowledge on the part of these airlines’ executive management which has led to a lack of contingency provision.

Worldwide, Spain is ranked third in terms of the number of tourists visiting the country, and is a leading service provider. Nevertheless, it lags behind many other countries in knowing how to look after its airlines and keep them in the air.

* Of the 835 airlines in the study, all those that have ceased economic activity, gone out of business or merged with others are considered inactive. Airlines that have simply changed their names are considered active.

Esta entrada también está disponible en: Spanish

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