The European financial crisis has created an immensely challenging environment for airlines, as demonstrated by Malev and Spanair, both of whom went out of business in early 2012. Nevertheless, a low-cost model can certainly prove effective during an economic downturn as customers shift their focus more towards value.
Bearing this in mind, Europe’s major low-cost carriers have managed to increase their passenger numbers as customers become more price-sensitive. Ryanair is the largest European budget carrier by quite a distance. Between 2011 and 2012, the controversial Irish airline increased its passenger numbers from 72.1 to 75.8 million.
Easyjet comes second, carrying 58.4 million passengers in 2012, almost four million more than 2011. Air Berlin comes third for passenger numbers – 33.3 million people flew with the German airline in 2012.