10 Cheap Airlines Based in Europe

Buy Low, Fly High

In 1978, the deregulation of U.S. airlines began, leading to lower fares and the creation of low-cost carriers. The deregulation revolution moved to Europe in the 1990s, which allowed travelers to fly for “the price of a pair of jeans,” according to EasyJet, an LCC based at London Luton Airport.  Below are another 10 LCCs operating on the continent.

 

  • 01 of 10
    ••• A Norwegian Air Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Photo courtesy of David Charles Peacock

     This Fornebu, Norway-based carrier was founded in ​ 1993. it is currently the third largest low-cost carrier in Europe, flying more than 400 routes to more than 130 destinations in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, Thailand, the Caribbean and the U.S. For international flights, the carrier uses a fleet of new Boeing 787 Dreamliners. When booking a flight, Norwegian offers a low-fare calendar so travelers can get the best fares.

  • 02 of 10
    ••• The Wow Air check-in desk at Iceland's Keflavik International Airport. Photo by Benét J. Wilson

    This Iceland-based low-cost carrier, the brainchild of founder Skúli Mogensen, began flying in November 2011. It currently serves 30 destinations across Europe and North America, including Baltimore-Washington, Boston Logan, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Montreal and Toronto. The East Coast cities are flown with narrowbody Airbus A321s, while the West Coast cities use widebody A330s. Passengers from the U.S. can schedule a free stopover in Reykjavík if they plan on traveling to Europe.

  • 03 of 10
    ••• The interior of an EasyJet Airbus A319. Photo courtesy of Arpingstone/Wikipedia

    Based at London Luton Airport, the airline was founded in 1995 by Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, who wanted to offer an alternative to British Airways and other European flag carriers. The airline operates on more than 800 routes across 31 countries with a fleet of 250+ Airbus jets. The carrier serves nearly 75 million passengers a year, with 20 percent being business travelers and more than 60 percent originating from outside of the UK.

  • 04 of 10
    ••• Two aircraft Ryanair is displayed during the Ryanair Aircraft maintenance hanger opening on October 19, 2016 in Bergamo, Italy.Ryanair low cost airline, today inaugurated a new hangar for the maintenance of aircraft at the airport of Orio al Serio in Bergamo, Italy. Photo by Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images

    The granddaddy of European LCCs, this Ireland-based carrier was created in 1985 with one turboprop jet that flew between Waterford and London Gatwick Airport. A year later, it won approval to compete with British Airways and Aer Lingus on the Dublin-London route. It models itself as a more extreme version of Dallas-based Southwest Airlines, operating an all-Boeing 737 fleet and serving more than 100 million passengers a year. It is known as being extremely low cost, charging for everything from checked and carry-on bags to choosing seats.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10
    ••• A Wizz Air Airbus A320, landing in Gdańsk, Poland. Photo courtesy of Łukasz Golowanow, Maciej Hypś, Konflikty.pl/Wikipedia

    This Budapest, Hungary-based LCC was created in June 2003, launching its first flight almost a year later. One of its founders was the former CEO of now-defunct flag carrier Malev Hungarian Airlines. It currently offers flights to more than 500 routes from 27 bases with a fleet of Airbus A320 and A321 jets. It flies to smaller and secondary airports to offer lower fares and served 20 million passengers in 2015. It was named 2016 Value Airline of the Year by Air Transport World magazine.

  • 06 of 10
    ••• A FlyBe Embraer E175 jet. Photo courtesy of FlyBe

    This Exeter, England-based carrier was formed in 1985 as Jersey European Airways. The airline was renamed FlyBe in 2000 as part of a rebranding. It calls itself Europe's largest regional airline, with 232 routes serving 15 countries and operating a fleet of 76 turboprops and jets. It offers different levels of service on its flights, offering travelers who buy "All In" fares receiving free drinks and snacks, access to a premium lounge, free prebooked seating and priority check-in. 

  • 07 of 10
    ••• An airBaltic Boeing 757 at Riga International Airport. Photo courtesy of Aleksandrs Samuilovs/Wikipedia

    This Latvian LCC was founded in 1995 and is primarily owned by the Latvian state. It bills itself as a hybrid of LCCs and legacy airlines, offering flights in a network that spans Europe, Scandinavia, Russia, CIS and the Middle East. The carrier has a fleet of 25 turboprops and jets and carried nearly three million passengers in 2016.

  • 08 of 10
    ••• Photo courtesy of Air Berlin

    The Berlin-based LCC was founded in 1978 by a Pan Am pilot who had lost his job. The first flight was in April 1979 between Berlin-Tegel Airport to Palma de Mallorca. It was bought by a German investor in 1991 and started flying to European leisure destinations. It is a member of airline alliance Oneworld and the Etihad Partner Network. It offers services to 118 scheduled year-round and seasonal destinations in 36 countries with a fleet of Airbus, Boeing and Bombardier aircraft.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10
    ••• A Vueling Airbus 320 airplanes in El Prat Airport, Barcelona, Spain. Photo courtesy of Horacio Villalobos/Getty Images

    This Barcelona-Spain-based LCC was founded in 2004 with a flight to vacation spot Ibiza. Since then, it currently serves more than  destinations in Africa, Asia and Europe and rivals Spanish flag carrier Iberia, serving nearly 20 million passengers. It is owned by  International Airlines Group, a company that also owns British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus and flies a fleet of Airbus A319, A320 and A321 jets.

  • 10 of 10
    ••• Photo courtesy of Alf van Beem/Wikipedia

    This Turkish LCC was created as a joint venture with Aer Lingus and other partners in 1990 as a charter carrier. After being acquired by another company in 2005, it started scheduled domestic flights. It flies a mixed fleet of Boeing 737s and Airbus A320s. It offers a single class of service and charges for seat selection, pre-ordered food, baggage and tickets that allow for changes.