easyJet and Ryanair’s outstanding potential:
167 airports served, only 550 to go*

 *In Europe and North Africa – a modest anna.aero estimate based on 450 ACI EUROPE airports, plus non-ACI small airports and suitable airbases.

Image: easyJet vs Ryanair
Competing viciously (just not with each other)

easyJet’s latest financial results confirmed that the airline is managing to ramp up profits as it continues to grow. Since its financial year ends in September and Ryanair’s ends in March exact comparisons are not straightforward. However, a graph of each airline’s annual net profit and when it was reported reveals a clear pattern.

Chart: Ryanir and easyJet annual Net profits
Source: easyJet & Ryanair websites

Ryanair is still the more profitable of the two airlines but whereas Ryanair’s net margin has fallen from 28% in 2003 to a still market-leading 18% in 2007, easyJet’s has risen from 3.5% to around 8.5% during the same period.

Ryanair growing much faster

In terms of monthly passengers as recently as the first quarter of 2005 easyJet carried more passengers than Ryanair. However, since then Ryanair’s growth rate has been significantly higher and last month Ryanair’s lead over easyJet had risen to a recent all-time high of 35%.

Chart: Ryanir and easyJet Monthly traffic 2005-07
Source: easyJet & Ryanair websites

In 2007 the two airlines will carry around 88 million passengers between them. The seasonality profile of both airlines is similar. Ryanair’s passenger numbers peak in August whereas easyJet’s peak is in July.

Who is bigger depends on what you measure

By examining a number of key performance indicators both airlines can claim to be the biggest LCC in Europe. It all depends on what is measured.

Ryanair easyJet
Number of airports* 127 76
Number of routes* 485 288
Average frequency on route* 6.4 per week 9.4 per week
Weekly departures* 6,220 5,397
Number of aircraft (W07 est.) 133 137
Average sector length 994 km 978 km
Annual revenue (USD million) 2,887 3,551
Annual passengers – booked (m) 42.5 37.2
Average load factor – booked 82% 84%
Revenue per passenger $68 $95
Net margin 17.9% 8.5%
Passenger no-show rate 7.5% 5.0%
* According to OAG Max Online for w/c 26 November 2007
Source: Airline annual reports (easyJet Y/E 30 Sep 2007, Ryanair Y/E 31 Mar 2007)

In terms of airports served, routes flown, daily flights and total passenger numbers Ryanair is clearly the ‘bigger’ airline. However, easyJet operates more aircraft, generates more revenue and employs more people. easyJet also operates fuller aircraft, has higher frequency on its routes and has a lower no-show rate amongst its passengers. Both airlines have seen their average sector length rise to near on 1,000 kilometres.

Ryanair’s average fare per passenger may be significantly lower than easyJet’s, but when all revenue (including ancillary) is taken into account Ryanair’s average revenue per booked passenger is around 29% lower than easyJet’s.

Ryanair has more, bigger bases

In terms of routes operated Ryanair’s top four bases at London Stansted, Dublin, Girona (Barcelona) and Hahn (Frankfurt) are all bigger than easyJet’s biggest base at London Gatwick.

Ryanair Routes
London Stansted 90
Dublin 68
Girona 52
Frankfurt Hahn 37
Liverpool 33
East Midlands 27
Stockholm Skavsta 27
Milan Bergamo 26
Shannon 24
Glasgow Prestwick 23
easyJet Routes
London Gatwick 34
London Luton 31
Bristol 29
Berlin SXF 27
London Stansted 26
Geneva 24
Belfast International 23
Madrid 23
Milan Malpensa 20
Liverpool 18
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 26 November 2007

London Stansted and Liverpool appear among the Top 10 bases for both airlines. Both also have a major presence in Milan, but at different airports. Between them these top 20 bases are located in the UK, Ireland, Spain, Germany, Sweden, Italy and Switzerland. France is a notable omission though easyJet operates a total of 23 routes across its two Paris airports at Orly and CDG. Ryanair operates 13 routes from Paris Beauvais and 10 routes from its base in Marseille.

Ryanair and easyJet have also both recently set up bases at Madrid and also share overnight parking space at East Midlands and Bristol. With Ryanair establishing a base at Belfast City airport both airlines will now have a major presence in Northern Ireland as well.

A total of 167 airports across Europe and North Africa will be served by one or other of the two airlines this winter.

Occasional visitors at (quite) some airports

At the other extreme each airline operates only a single route from a number of airports during the current schedule period. These are summarised below:

Airline Airport (route to)
easyJet Aberdeen (to LTN), Arrecife (to MAD), Bilbao (to STN), Bournemouth (to KRK), Bari (to MXP), Casablanca (to MAD), Catania (to MXP), Fuerteventura (from MAD), La Coruna (from MAD), Ljubljana (from STN), Las Palmas (from Geneva), Marseille (from LGW), Palermo (from MXP), Riga (from SXF), Thessaloniki (from DTM), Sofia (from LGW), Vienna (from LTN) and Zurich (from LTN).
Ryanair Aberdeen (to DUB), Ancona (to STN), Brindisi (to STN), Biarritz (to STN), Bergerac (to STN), Grenoble (to STN), Haugesund (to STN), Inverness (to EMA), Klagenfurt (to STN), La Rochelle (to STN), Maribor (to STN), Nice (to DUB), Newquay (to STN), Perugia (to STN), Perpignan (to STN), Parma (to STN), Palermo (to STN), Prague (to DUB), Balaton (to STN), Salzburg (to STN), Toulon (to STN), Turin (to STN), Trieste (to STN), Tours (to STN), Verona Brescia (to STN), Stockholm Vasteras (to STN), Vaxjo (to NRN) and Warsaw (to DUB).
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 26 November 2007

easyJet operates just a single route from 18 airports while Ryanair does the same from 28 airports. Aberdeen and Palermo share the curious distinction of appearing on both lists.

Image: easyJet welcoming
easyJet’s arrival in Ljubljana – another one-route only destination for the big Orange, this time from Stansted. easyJet operates just a single route from 18 airports while Ryanair does the same from 28 airports.

Limited direct competition

Although both airlines have a presence at many airports across Europe the number of routes on which they compete directly this winter (airport to airport) is relatively small at just 10.

Route & Weeky Frq. Ryanair Frequency easyJet Frequency
Alicante – Basel 3 5
Alicante – Liverpool 7 7
Alicante – London Stansted 7 14
Krakow – Liverpool 3 7
Madrid – Liverpool 3 7
Palma – Liverpool 4 7
Palma – London Stansted 7 6
Rome Ciampino – East Midlands 7 7
Rome Ciampino – Madrid 7 7
Valencia – London Stansted 14 7
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 27 November 2007

Six of the 10 routes are between the UK and Spain, a key market for both airlines. Direct competition is usually avoided by operating from different airports serving similar catchment areas. If city-pairs were examined the level of indirect competition would be much higher. Attempts by easyJet to succeed in Ryanair’s home market of Ireland have been met with stiff resistance and (even more) aggressive pricing resulting in easyJet currently having no presence in the Irish republic.

Image: Balaton
Balaton – Hungary’s “second” airport. Although falling into the lengthy list of airports served by Ryanair and easyJet with only one route, the mere sustainability of these services indicates substantial potential for more frequencies and destinations.

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