Low-cost airlines throughout the world have changed the way people fly — and how many people fly. And the changes have been more apparent in Europe than anywhere else: Low-cost carriers have captured nearly a third of the entire market and offer over 130,000 flights each month currently. However, because these airlines operate on a tight budget, they do tend to be more sensitive to high fuel costs. Now fuel makes up at least 36% of global airlines’ expenses, up from 1.4% just five years ago.
In terms of total seats sold, in the Asia Pacific region in 2007, 12% were on low-cost airlines, compared to 1% in 2001. In North America 27% of seats sold were on low-cost airlines, compared to only 17% in 2001. And in Europe 30% of seats sold last year were on low-cost airlines, compared to only 5% in 2001.