Transavia could cancel the worst-performing 10% of its Dutch routes as part of a network review driven by the severity of airport slot constraints it faces in the country.

Speaking today at the Connect conference in Tbilisi, Transavia's network planner Oliver Newton said slot availability at its main hub of Amsterdam Schiphol "has reached its limit". Of the Air France-KLM unit's other two principal gateways in the Netherlands, Eindhoven is "almost full" and Rotterdam is full during the summer season.

As a result, there "is not the potential for us to grow", Newton says, so Transavia has focused on "optimising the network". This "puts a strain on the bottom 10% performing routes" and Transavia may "consider cancelling [them] for new routes".

He says "growth is going to be very limited" in the coming years, "yet demand is still growing very quickly". The budget carrier opened 17 new routes in 2017, but will only add two this year.

One benefit of this, says Newton, is that Transavia has a "good slot portfolio" and can generate high yields.

Transavia has 43 Boeing 737s based across Netherlands, with 27 at Amsterdam, eight at Eindhoven and seven at Rotterdam airport.

Newton says the airline may seek opportunities to expand into regional airports in the Netherlands such as Groningen and Maastricht. Given the network's seasonality, there are also opportunities to expand during the winter season, he indicates.

Another option is to upgauge its fleet. Transavia still has six 737-700s in the fleet, and Newton notes that a "way to get more seats" would be to phase them out. The airline is also examining the potential of ordering larger Max jets.

Newton says it will "probably" start flights from Lelystad airport, if and when it opens, though he notes that "right now [there is] a lot of uncertainty over what's going to happen at Lelystad; there's a lot of opposition".

His "latest information" is that the gateway will open in the summer of 2019.

Beyond the opening date, a further "uncertainty" is whether slots at the new airport will be awarded at the expense of existing slots at Amsterdam or on top of these.

"Our preference is that it would be on top of Amsterdam," Newton says.

Transavia France will continue to grow its network, but overseas bases are not being pursued at present as the group is focused on "home markets where we are profitable".

The airline was forced to close its Munich base last year because "it didn't meet our expectations financially", he adds.

Source: Cirium Dashboard