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London, 18th May 2004: Hitwise, the world’s leading online competitive intelligence service, today releases analysis on the performance of the airline industry online*.

In the past few weeks, no-frills airlines have been under increasing scrutiny amid concerns about the impact of intense competition and rising fuel prices. easyJet’s share price plunged by almost 30% over the past week following concern about financial year results whilst Duo, the airline running flights to Europe out of Birmingham and Edinburgh, ran out of cash and closed.

Hitwise custom data for the top 10 no-frills airline websites reveals that visits by UK consumers have increased by 12.5% over the past year. However, the broader Commercial Airlines sector, which includes both traditional and no-frills carriers, has outpaced this growth, with an increase of 19.4% year on year.

The difference in growth is attributable to 2 clear factors seen in the airline industry.

The first factor is the ever-increasing competition for direct bookings online. In the past 12 months, Hitwise added 44 websites to its Commercial Airlines sector, a 27% growth in the number of websites year on year and a good indicator of new entrants into the online competitive landscape.

The second factor has been the improved online customer acquisition strategies of the traditional carriers. By better utilising the suite of online marketing opportunities, including country specific websites, search marketing, partnerships and affiliate networks, the traditional airlines have borrowed heavily from the strategies of the no-frills carriers to realise some of the cost savings available to them by direct bookings. This has resulted in more UK consumers being attracted to a larger range of websites. British Airways’ announcement this week of its financial year results backs this up, with more than 50% of its short-haul leisure flights being booked online.

Simon Chamberlain, General Manager of Hitwise UK said: “It was inevitable that the traditional carriers would respond to the competitive threat of the no-frills airlines. By studying the online customer acquisition strategies and business models of the likes of easyJet and Ryanair, companies such as British Airways look to be making up some lost ground. With visits to the online travel industry growing another 27% in the past 12 months, consumers are clearly responding to the flexibility and price transparency that the Internet brings to their travel plans.”

In terms of the most popular no-frills airlines, easyJet (www.easyjet.com) is the market leader, accounting for over a third of all visits to the custom sector, followed by Ryanair (www.ryanair.com), which receives a quarter of visits, and BMI Baby (www.bmibaby.com), which saw one in 10 visits to the custom sector.

Hitwise Search Terms shows that for the Commercial Airlines sector, of the top 15 most searched for keywords, over 70% were for no-frills airlines. British Airways is the third most searched for airline brand.

* This analysis draws on the Hitwise Aviation – Commercial Airlines sector and a custom sector of no-frills airlines, as set out below.

1. Custom No-Frills Airline Sector

1.1 Top 10 Ranking by Visits - Custom No-Frills Airline Sector, April 2004 (% market share of visits to Custom No-Frills Sector)

Rank Name Domain Market Share
1 easyJet (www.easyjet.co.uk) 37.01%
2 RyanAir.com (www.ryanair.com) 25.83%
3 bmibaby (www.bmibaby.com) 10.03%
4 FlyBE.com (www.flybe.com) 8.05%
5 Monarch Airlines (www.flymonarch.com) 4.68%
6 MyTravelLite.com (www.mytravellite.com) 3.71%
7 Jet2 (www.jet2.com) 3.42%
8 Air2000.com (www.air2000.com) 2.30%
9 Excel Airways (www.excelairways.com) 2.02%
10 FlyGlobeSpan.com (www.flyglobespan.com) 1.14%

2. Commercial Airlines Sector

2.1 Top 10 Ranking by Visits – Commercial Airlines Sector, April 2004 (% market share of visits to Aviation - Commercial Airlines Sector)

Rank Name Domain Market Share
1 easyJet (www.easyjet.co.uk) 23.79%
2 RyanAir.com (www.ryanair.com) 16.75%
3 British Airways (www.britishairways.com) 12.82%
4 bmibaby (www.bmibaby.com) 5.94%
5 FlyBE.com (www.flybe.com) 4.76%
6 BMI British Midlands (www.flybmi.com) 4.25%
7 Monarch Airlines (www.flymonarch.com) 2.87%
8 MyTravelLite.com (www.mytravellite.com) 2.38%
9 Thomson Flights (www.thomsonflights.com) 2.16%
10 Jet2 (www.jet2.com) 1.95%

2.3 Most Popular Search Terms

The following report lists the most popular terms typed into a search engine over the last 12 weeks, that resulted in visits to websites classified by Hitwise within the 'Aviation - Commercial Airlines' sector.

Search term
british airways
easy jet
ryan air
bmi baby
cheap flights
monarch airlines

About Hitwise

Hitwise is the world’s leading provider of online competitive intelligence services. Each day, Hitwise monitors how more than 25 million Internet users interact with over 500,000 websites across 160 industry categories.

By monitoring more people, more websites, more often, Hitwise provides marketers with timely and actionable marketing insights into how their online presence compares to competitive websites. Companies use this information to maximize the return on their online investment in efforts such as affiliate programs, search marketing, online advertising, content development and lead generation.

Hitwise collects Internet usage information via a combination of ISP data partnerships and opt-in mega panels, and complies with local and international privacy legislation as audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Founded in 1998, Hitwise is a privately held company headquartered in Melbourne, Australia and operates in the UK, US, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore.


For media enquiries, please contact:

Jannie Cahill
Tel: 020 7378 3619
Mob: 07956 873939

Hitwise is exhibiting at the Travel Distribution Summit, 17th-19th May 2004

Published on: 12:00AM on 18th May 2004