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2004: Where next for low cost flights?

attitude Travel Guide to Low Cost European Airlines
Low Cost Airlines in Europe

This article was originally written at the beginning of 2004 and has now been archived. Though correct at the time of publishing, the low cost airlines industry landscape in Europe has continued to develop and many references in the article may no longer be accurate. For example, in February 2004, easyJet began operating a service to Ljubljana and by the end of August 2004, both easyJet and RyanAir had announced they would commence regular no-frills flights from western Europe to the Baltic States.

This article should be seen in the context of January 2004 when it was written.

The reach of European no frills airline networks has mushroomed over the last eighteen months. As 2004 begins, it's probably easier to count the countries European low cost airlines don't yet serve instead of those which they do.

The Baltic States aren't yet served by any carrier which can realistically be defined as no-frills and neither are the more remote Eastern European countries like Belarus, Ukraine, or Moldova.

But outside this handful of nations there are few exceptions. In central Europe, Poland and Hungary and Slovakia have their own low cost airlines, Prague is a perennially popular destination for budget carriers from Germany, Scandinavia and the UK and at least three no-frills airlines are now flying to cities on the Dalmatian coast of Croatia, as well as to Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and FYR Macedonia.

North-west of the Balkans, only Slovenia has yet to see a low-cost airline service - though there's definitely an opportunity for one of the more established low cost airlines to introduce a Ljubljana service which might compete with Ryanair's flights into Trieste, just across the Slovenia's border with Italy or into Graz, just north of the Slovenia's border with Austria.

Meanwhile, in western Europe, Luxembourg is unique in being the only EU country yet to play host to a no-frills service - though the private regional airline VLM usually provides a better deal on low fare flights to London than any competitor.

Otherwise, in every country from Iceland in the far north-west to Georgia in the far south-east, - including the most unlikely regions: Snowflake provides low cost flights from Kosovo - independent travellers can increasingly find low cost flights to elsewhere on the continent.

Not only this, but a growing trend pioneered by Air Berlin and Snowflake is to provide low cost connections from Europe to destinations in North Africa such as Egypt and Morocco as well as on the eastern Mediterranean such as Turkey and Lebanon.

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