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A Vueling Airbus A320 lands at London Heathrow International Airport (Photo: WIlliam Derrickson)

A Vueling Airbus A320 lands at London Heathrow International Airport (Photo: WIlliam Derrickson)

Vueling Expands Scandinavian Route Network

Vueling, a low-cost carrier in Spain, announced a set of nine, new routes from popular coastlines and beach destinations in Spain like Palma de Mallorca and Barcelona to multiple Scandinavian destinations, including four new destinations.  

Leisure From Scandinavia

Primarily, the Spanish-carrier will add flights from its hub in Barcelona, to Bergen, Norway; Billund, Denmark; Gothenburg, Sweden and Stavanger, Norway. According to theaeronetwork, flights to Bergen, Gothenburg and Stavanger are resumptions, last operated by Vueling in October 2016, October 2018 and March 2020, respectively.  All of these routes fly once or twice a week around weekends.

Additionally, Vueling plans to add flights from Malaga and Palma de Mallorca to Billund and Copenhagen.  Flights will be two times weekly, except for flights between Malaga and Copenhagen three times a week.  Finally, Vueling will add three weekly flights between Alicante and Copenhagen. All of these flights will start in mid-June, as shown in the table below. 

Departure City Arrival City Start Date Amount of Service
Barcelona Bergen, Norway June 19, 2021 Saturday
Barcelona Billund, Denmark June 18, 2021 Monday, Friday
Barcelona Gothenburg, Sweden June 11, 2021 Friday, Sunday
Barcelona Stavanger, Norway June 20, 2021 Sunday
Malaga, Spain Billund, Denmark June 19, 2021 Wednesday, Saturday
Malaga, Spain Copenhagen June 20, 2021 Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday
Palma de Mallorca Billund, Denmark June 19, 2021 Wednesday, Saturday
Palma de Mallorca Copenhagen June 20, 2021 Thursday, Sunday
Alicante, Spain Copenhagen June 19, 2021 Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday

All of Vueling’s new flights will be operated using the airline’s Airbus A320, which contains 180 economy seats in a standard 3-3 configuration. Currently, the IAG-owned airline has 76 Airbus A320s, with plans to expand its fleet using Airbus A320neos and A321neos.

Previously, Vueling flew from Barcelona to four cities in Scandinavia, including Aalborg, Denmark; Copenhagen, Denmark; Oslo, Norway; and Stockholm, Sweden. With the newly announced routes, its presence expands to eight cities in Scandinavia. Additionally, the airline will expand its smaller bases in beach cities like Alicante, Malaga, and Palma de Mallorca.

Competition Expected

Competition-wise, Vueling expects to see a response from other low-cost carriers. Norwegian Air Shuttle, the struggling low-cost-carrier, is the main competitor for Vueling in the Scandinavian market. From Barcelona, Norwegian serves all the new destinations above with similar frequency. However, Vueling avoids the competition by scheduling flights on days when Norwegian doesn’t fly.

Meanwhile, on flights to Copenhagen to its smaller bases in Spain like Malaga, the Spanish airline faces competition from Ryanair, legacy carrier SAS and Norwegian Air Shuttle. On flights to Billund, known for its Legoland Resort, Vueling sustains competition from Ryanair and Norwegian Air Shuttle.  

The new routes from Vueling are being viewed as an attack on the weakening Norwegian Air Shuttle due to its current financial situation, which has been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Recently, the Norwegian-airline decided to end its unprofitable long-haul operation, focusing on its operations in Norway and key European destinations. Norwegian is seeking to reduce its debt by $2 billion and raise $550 million in capital, amid its restructuring. 

Maintaining a Leisure Focus

At the end of the day, the new routes fit well into Vueling’s business model in chasing low-cost, leisure travel.  Many airlines in Europe are investing in leisure travel to “sunny” destinations along the Mediterranean for the summer and winter seasons. For example, Ryanair announced its winter 2021 schedule, focused on Mediterranean destinations like Sicily and Greece. In September 2020, Lufthansa announced an expansion to fifteen leisure destinations in Europe, Asia, and Africa, including three points in Spain.

Ultimately, the focus on leisure travel to Spain will cause increasing pressure for Vueling to defend its market share in an increasingly competitive market. The Spanish-carrier’s key decisions on its route network and the allocation of its fleet will determine its future and solidify its spot as the top low-cost carrier in Spain.

Winston Shek
Winston Shek
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