Ryanair ready to take advantage of Charleroi’s new terminal

Image: Brussels South Charleroi Airport
A major new 5m passenger terminal opens in January. To help with predicting the success of future new routes the airport is asking visitors to its website to choose their preferred destination out of Corsica, Marrakech, Palermo, Pescara and Porto. At present Porto and Palermo are leading the way with 34% and 26% of votes respectively.

In 26 April 2001 Brussels Charleroi airport became Ryanair’s first continental European base with the launch of services to Carcassonne, Glasgow Prestwick, London Stansted, Pisa, Shannon and Venice Treviso. A route from Dublin had been operating since May 1997. By winter 2003 the network had almost doubled to 13 routes and over 20 daily departures.

Image: ryanair 10 years
May 2007: The friendly airport celebrates 10 years of Ryanair services, (low-cost style).
Chart: Ryanair operations at Brussels Charleroi
Source: Derived from airline website timetables

Map: Ryanair routesRyanair’s deal with the airport and local authorities came under close scrutiny from the EU and for a period the airline reduced its operations and dropped the London Stansted and Liverpool routes during 2004. It was not until the summer of 2006 that Ryanair started ramping up operations once more with the addition of new routes to Faro, Malaga, Nimes, Salzburg, and Valencia.

That winter another four new destinations were added – Grenoble, Madrid, Marseille and Turn taking the route network to 20. Grenoble and Turin are winter-only destinations serving the ski market.

A look at the network reveals that nearly all routes are either to France, Spain, Italy, Ireland or the UK. At present there are no services to any Central European destinations though Wizz Air offers less than daily scheduled flights to Budapest, Katowice (started on 2 October), Ljubljana and Warsaw with Bucharest being added in February 2008.

Aiming for 2.5 million pax in 2007

Thanks primarily to Ryanair’s recent network expansion, the airport is on course to handle around 2.5 million passengers this year.

Chart: Brussels Charleroi Airport Traffic
Source: Brussels Charleroi airport
Image: The Kortleven family photo
In August the airport reached the 1.5 million passenger landmark for the year. The passenger (a Mrs Kortleven from Molenstede, Belgium), was travelling back from Gerona on Ryanair with her entire family. She received an appropriate bottle of Champagne and gifts (paid for by who?).

Ryanair is currently responsible for around 90% of all scheduled traffic at the airport and has now carried over 11 million passengers through the airport in the 10 years it has been operating there.

Various disruptions in 2007

There have been a variety of disruptions affecting operations at the airport this year as can be seen from the traffic figures when compared with last year.

Chart: Brussels Charleroi Seasonality
Source: Brussels Charleroi airport

Runway re-surfacing work during the second quarter meant that a number of night flights had to be diverted, and a three-day wildcat strike in June by transport ministry staff impacted some 17,000 passengers (a new labour deal has now be signed). Despite these issues passenger numbers to the end of August are up 14% on 2006. During 2007 the following new routes have been initiated:

Route Start date Frequency W07
Alicante 13 Nov 07 7 per week
Bologna (Forli) 01 Nov 07 3 per week
London Stansted 01 Jun 07 16 per week
Pau 30 Oct 07 3 per week

The London route returned after an absence of just over three years despite the increased competition now faced from the Eurostar rail services being able to travel faster through the UK and now arriving at St Pancras rather than Waterloo.

This winter a total of 22 routes will be available to customers including the return of the seasonal Grenoble and Turin routes from mid-December. Stockholm Skavsta has disappeared from the network though whether this is just for winter or a permanent state of affairs is not clear.

Four aircraft kept busy

This winter Ryanair is basing four 737-800s at the airport. The only routes not served by Charleroi-based aircraft are the serices to other bases in Alicante, Dublin, Madrid, Marseille, Shannon and most of the London Stansted services.

Ryanair at Brussels Charleroi (CRL) - W07 - 4 aircraft

All four aircraft are in the air by 06:45 each day and back at base by 23:00 each evening. Turnrounds at Charleroi are typically scheduled for 25 minutes.

€10 fares to everywhere in December

An analysis of fares available from Charleroi for a one-week period at the end of November reveals that nearly all route are available for €10 (including fares and taxes but not baggage charges) in early December. Outbound flights on Friday were the most expensive with seats on flights to Glasgow, Milan, Rome and Venice apparently selling out several days in advance of the flight.

Table: Ryanair one-way fares from Brussels Charleroi

The average sector length of routes at Charleroi of 1,005 kilometres is close to the airline’s overall network average.


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