Ryanair reaches Lisbon Airport; easyJet and Norwegian also add new routes in 2013 as passenger numbers grow by almost 4%

Ryanair arrived at another capital city’s major airport on 26 November, this time Lisbon in Portugal. Celebrating the event with a splendid cake were (left to right) Francisco Pita, Deputy Manager of Lisbon Airport; Paula Oliveira, Executive Director of Lisbon Tourism; Luis Fernández-Mellado, Sales and Marketing Manager Portugal of Ryanair; and João Nunes, Manager of Lisbon Airport. Ryanair, which already has bases in Faro and Porto, joins easyJet, Norwegian and Vueling among Europe’s major LCCs serving the airport.

On 26 November, Ryanair launched its first ever flights to the Portuguese capital with the introduction of four routes from its bases in Brussels Charleroi, Frankfurt Hahn, London Stansted and Paris Beauvais. This should round-off a pretty good year for Lisbon Airport. Among European capital cities served by just a single airport, TAP Portugal’s 60% share of Lisbon Airport’s summer seat capacity (August 2013), is among the highest. Only Luxair in Luxembourg (66%), airBaltic in Riga (65%) and Finnair in Helsinki (64%) are more dominated by their national carrier. Despite the problems with the Portuguese economy (which led to the country’s airport operator ANA being sold to Vinci Concessions in 2013), Lisbon has seen passenger traffic growth of 14% between 2007 and 2012, during a period when many airports across Europe were struggling to maintain traffic demand.

Lisbon Airport 1996-2013 Annual passengers (millions) and year-on-year growth

Source: ANA, ACI Europe, anna.aero forecast for 2013 based on Jan-Sep data

Based on data for the first nine months of 2013, anna.aero forecasts that Lisbon will handle close to 16 million passengers this year, an all-time high. Every month in 2013 (so far) has seen the airport handle a record number of passengers for that month.

 Lisbon Airport Monthly passengers 2010-2013

Source: ANA, ACI Europe

The airport’s peak month is August, and based on 2012 data the airport has a SVID of 3.99 (“good”), compared with Porto (4.33, “good”), and Faro (34.70, “operational challenges”).

TAP growing steadily

TAP, despite its financial issues in recent years, has continued to expand and between 2007 and 2012 passenger numbers on scheduled flights grew by over 30% from 7.8 million to 10.2 million. The airline has made a concerted effort to increase the attractiveness of Lisbon as a hub, especially for flights from Europe to Latin America and Africa.

easyJet made Lisbon a base in April 2012, though the airline had first started serving the airport as long ago as 2005 from its base in Geneva. In each of the last two summers it has offered flights to 21 destinations, though Barcelona and Toulouse have been replaced by Bilbao and Valencia. It is comfortably the second biggest airline at Lisbon Airport after TAP.

World Cup in Brazil in 2014 should boost long-haul traffic

The airport offers Europe’s widest selection of destinations in Brazil, which is likely to be very useful next summer when football-mad Europeans head for the World Cup. Ten destinations are currently served non-stop; Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Fortaleza, Natal, Porto Alegre, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Sao Paulo Guarulhos and Viracopos. Apart from Brazil the airport also offers non-stop flights to Caracas in Venezuela with TAP.

North American destinations served include Boston (SATA International), Miami (TAP), Newark (TAP and United Airlines) and Philadelphia (US Airways) in the US, and Toronto in Canada. There are no non-stop flights to Asia, but there is a daily service to Dubai with Emirates, the only MEB3 carrier to serve Lisbon at present.

LCCs drive growth in 2013

Since the beginning of the year, anna.aero has registered 14 new services at Lisbon, with established LCCs accounting for nine of them. Half of the routes are already served by TAP, adding further pressure on the airline’s European network.

Date Airline Destination WF (aircraft) Competition (WF)
31 March easyJet Bilbao (BIO) 4 (A319) TAP Portugal (12)
2 April easyJet Valencia (VLC) 3 (A319) TAP Portugal (13)
11 April Norwegian Copenhagen (CPH) 2 (B738) TAP Portugal (11), easyJet (3)
28 April transavia.com France Paris Orly (ORY) 6 (B738) TAP Portugal (49), Vueling (14), Aigle Azur (13)
3 June Norwegian Oslo (OSL) 2 (B738) TAP Portugal (7)
21 June Air Mediterranee Paris CDG (CDG) 2 (eqv)
24 June SAS Oslo (OSL) 2 (B738) TAP Portugal (7), Norwegian (2)
26 June Air Mediterranee Lyon (LYS) 2 (A321) TAP Portugal (19), easyJet (5)
27 October TAP Portugal Boa Vista (BVC) 2 (A319) TACV Airlines (1)
27 October TAP Portugal Tangier (TNG) 5 (BEH)
26 November Ryanair Brussels Charleroi (CRL) 4 (B738)
26 November Ryanair London Stansted (STN) 14 (B738)
26 November Ryanair Paris Beauvais (BVA) 4 (B738)
26 November Ryanair Frankfurt Hahn (HHN) 3 (B738)
Source: anna.aero new routes database                    WF: Weekly Frequency

One other new route is scheduled to start before the end of the year, easyJet’s new service to Luxembourg which launches on 10 December. The timing of this launch is a little odd as the route would not appear to be a particularly obvious one to generate profitable traffic at this time of year.

Air Moldova, Luxair, SWISS and US Airways among airlines starting new routes in 2014

The airport’s new owners are clearly interested in attracting a wide range of new services to the Portuguese capital judging by the routes already announced for 2014. The list of airlines planning new routes in 2014 has already reached nine, and this is unlikely to be the final figure.

  • Air Canada rouge to Toronto (Jun, seasonal)
  • Air Moldova to Chisinau (April)
  • easyJet to Nice (April)
  • Luxair to Luxembourg (March)
  • Ryanair to Brussels Zaventem (February) and Dublin (April)
  • SWISS to Geneva (April)
  • TAP to Manaus with onward same-aircraft service to Belem (June)
  • US Airways to Charlotte (May, seasonal)
  • Vueling to Brussels (May)

Anyone living close to the Portuguese capital who wants to visit Belgium next summer, is likely to find some great fares on offer, as this is one of the markets on which Ryanair and Vueling will be going head-to-head, both flying to Brussels Zaventem, while Ryanair has also started flights to Brussels Charleroi on 26 November.


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