The largest airline hub in Europe in 2023 is Turkey’s Istanbul Airport, according to new data released by aviation consulting company Cirium, which compared Turkish Airlines Istanbul to London Heathrow. Schedule data from Diio by Cirium show that Turkish has offered more than 35m seats to and from Istanbul during the 12 months through May of this year. For London Heathrow, now Europe’s second busiest airport, the number is less than 21m. That’s a huge gap.
The Turkish Airlines Istanbul hub is also larger today than it was pre-Covid. That’s unusual, with most large European airline hubs still yet to recover their pre-Covid size. Pegasus Airlines, which competes with Turkish, has also grown its Istanbul hub, but at the city’s secondary airport.
Other hubs or “bases” that have grown since the Covid crisis include easyJet at London Gatwick, Ryanair at Dublin, Ryanair at Milan Bergamo, and Air Europa at Madrid. Remarkably, Aegean Airlines and Air France/KLM subsidiary Transavia have roughly doubled their capacity since the crisis, at Athens and Paris Orly, respectively.
In second place came British Airways with almost 21 million seats available from its London Heathrow Airport (LHR) hub in the last 12 months. Star Alliance founding member Lufthansa came third with almost million seats offered at Frankfurt’s airport. Air France and KLM complete the top five with 20.4 and 17.3 million seats at Paris CDG and Amsterdam Schiphol respectively.
Compared to last year, nearly all hubs have grown. Two exceptions are Aeroflot at Moscow Sheremetyevo, due to the Ukraine war, and Turkish Airlines at the secondary Istanbul airport. Lufthansa’s Frankfurt and Munich hubs are smaller today than four years ago. Its sister airline Swiss is similarly much smaller at Zurich airport.