For many people, taking a flight is currently a preferred method of transportation when it comes to European travel, particularly on journeys between distant destinations or different countries. This isn't just because flying is usually the quickest travel option, but also because flights have become increasingly affordable in the past decade. While the airline travel market has been traditionally dominated by national flag-carrying premium airlines with flying reserved for the affluent, the emergence of cheap flights offered by budget airlines has revolutionized air travel in Europe. While the deregulation of airline carriers has resulted in a profusion of cheap airlines in Europe, airfare can still be broadly placed in one of two main travel categories - budget or traditional.
On a typical day, more than 30,000 commercial flights pass through European airspace either departing from or arriving at a European destination. While a portion of these will be intercontinental flights, the vast majority of these are airlines operating routes within Europe. As a compact continent with many countries located in close proximity to each other, Europe is highly connected by an abundance of relatively cheap flights between a variety of destinations. There are many airports in Europe, with the top 25 all processing more than 20 million passengers every year.
The most popular continental flights within Europe utilize Barcelona-El Prat, Paris-Orly, Berlin-Tegel and London-Heathrow airports. Journeying by discount airline continues to be a viable transportation option, especially since domestic flight connections usually involve a shorter transit time than choosing to travel via bus or train. The most travelled domestic flight route - from Madrid to Barcelona - had more than 3 million passengers in 2011. Key airlines operating these routes include Vueling, Germanwings, Air Berlin, Lufthansa, Norwegian Air and easyJet. People in Europe fly to other European destinations for many different reasons, with flights to both business centres and holiday destinations featuring prominently.
London | Paris | Rome | Amsterdam | Barcelona | Madrid | Berlin
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Airlines offering Domestic and International Flights
Even though the national flag-carrying airline is no longer the sole option when it comes to booking flights, they still account for the majority of European flights. Such flights often include no additional charges on checked luggage and complimentary refreshments once on board.
|Aer Lingus: Ireland's flag-carrying airline offers 5 domestic flights and nearly 80 international flights throughout Europe and the rest of the world. Aer Lingus uses Dublin airport as its flight hub.|
|Air France: Nearly 47 million passengers travel on France's national airline every year. Air France uses Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport as its travel hub and offers flights to more than 190 destinations in Europe and across the world.|
|Alitalia: Italy's national airline, Alitalia uses Rome's Fiumicino-Leonardo da Vinci airport and Milan's Linate airport as flight hubs. Alitalia offers flights to 102 destinations around the world.|
|Austrian Airlines: Austria's national airline offers flights to 6 domestic destinations in Austria and 120 international destinations across the world. Austrian airlines uses Vienna International airport as its flight hub.|
|British Airways: The United Kingdom's national airline, British Airways, has the largest fleet size in the world and flies to over 183 destinations throughout the world. British Airways uses London's Heathrow airport as its flight hub.|
|Czech Airlines: the Czech Republic's flag-carrying airline offers flights to 89 destinations in 45 countries. Czech Airlines' flight hub is located at Prague airport.|
|Finnair: Finland's national airline offers flights to 108 destinations across Europe and the world. Finnair's flight hub is located at Helsinki-Vantaa airport.|
|Iberia: Founded in 1927, Spain's national airline operates from both Madrid's Barajas and Barcelona's El Prat airports. Iberia flies to 109 destinations in 39 countries around the world.|
|Icelandair: Iceland's flag-carrying airline operates flights to 39 cities in 16 countries on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Icelandair offers passengers on transatlantic flights the opportunity to stopover in Iceland at no additional cost.|
|KLM: As the Netherlands' national airline, KLM offers flights to 130 destinations and uses Amsterdam's Schiphol airport as its flight hub. KLM is also the world's oldest airline still operating under its original name.|
|LOT Polish Airlines: Poland's national airline offers flights to over 60 destinations in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and North America from Warsaw's Chopin airport.|
|Lufthansa: Founded in 1926, Lufthansa is Germany's national airline and offers flights to 220 destinations worldwide. Lufthansa's flight hub is located in Frankfurt airport.|
|Scandinavian Airlines: Operating flights to more than 50 European cities out of Copenhagen-Kastrup airport, Scandinavian airlines is the flag-carrier for Sweden, Denmark and Norway.|
|Swiss Airlines: Switzerland's national airline offers flights to 106 destinations in 46 countries. Swiss Airlines uses Zurich airport as its flight hub.|
|TAP Portugal: Portugal's flag-carrying airline flies to 88 destinations in 38 countries throughout the world. TAP Portugal uses Lisbon's Humberto Delgado airport as its flight hub.|
Of the more than 230 million travelers that fly in Europe each year, roughly 30% of them fly with cheap, discount airlines such as easyJet or Ryanair for their travel needs. Since the deregulation of the airline marketplace in 1997, the rapid growth of discount airlines and availability of cheap flights has driven down the prices of traditional airlines while simultaneously increasing the number of travelers who choose to travel by plane to their final destinations. These airlines manage to offer cheap flights through a number of practices which help to keep travel prices low, such as only flying to destination airports with low landing costs and having a rapid turnaround while on the ground.
|Air Berlin: Maintaining flight hubs at both Berlin's Tegel airport and Dusseldorf airport, Air Berlin offers flights to 114 destinations in Europe and across the world. Air Berlin is Germany's second largest airline and the ninth largest in Europe.|
|Air Europa: Air Europa is Spain's third largest airline, headquartered in Mallorca, Spain. Air Europa flies to 44 destinations throughout Europe.|
|EasyJet: Easyjet is a low-cost British airline that offers flights to over 130 destinations throughout Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East. Easyjet uses London's Luton airport as its flight hub.|
|Eurowings: Eurowings is a German low-cost airline that operates out of Dusseldorf airport. Eurowings is a budget airline owned by Lufthansa.|
|Flybe: Flybe is a budget European airline that primarily operates domestic flights from Exeter in the UK. Flybe offers flights to 62 destinations in 9 countries and transports more than 7 million people per year.|
|HOP!: The airline HOP! is a budget subsidiary of Air France for domestic flights in France. HOP! offers flights to over 100 destinations from Paris' Orly and Lyon's Saint-Exupery airports.|
|Norwegian Airlines: Norwegian Air is one of the largest low-cost airlines in Europe, offering flights to 132 destinations throughout Europe. Norwegian airlines' flight hub is located at Oslo airport.|
|Ryanair: The Irish budget airline Ryanair offers flights to 191 cities in 32 countries throughout the world. Ryanair is the busiest airline in Europe and has flight hubs at both Dublin airport and London's Stansted airport.|
|Transavia Airlines: Transavia Airlines is a low-cost Dutch airline which is wholly owned by KLM. Transavia offers flights to 88 destinations, primarily operating out of their flight hub at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport.|
|Volotea: Volotea, headquartered at Barcelona's El Prat airport, offers flights between numerous cities in Spain, Italy, and France. Volotea also offers flights to the capital cities of Albania, Malta, and Moldova.|
|Vueling: Founded in 2004, Vueling is a Spanish budget airline that offers frequent flights to 145 destinations around the world. Vueling has a flight hub at both Barcelona's El Prat airport and Rome's Fiumicino airport.|
|Wizz Air: Wizz Air is a Hungarian budget airline that operates primarily out of Budapest's Ferenc Liszt International airport. Wizz Air is the largest airline in Hungary, offering flights to 35 countries in Europe and the Middle East.|
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Further facilities and services may vary according to the transport company and country of operation.