Porto benefits from Ryanair’s growing presence – traffic up 50% since 2003

Image: Porto Airport
Since 2003, demand at Porto has shot up by 50% to just under four million in 2007. Much of this can be attributed to the belated arrival of Europe’s major low-cost carriers at the airport.

Between 1999 and 2003 passenger numbers at Portugal’s third busiest airport remained virtually unchanged, hovering between 2.6 and 2.7 million. However, since 2003 demand has shot up by 50% to just under four million in 2007. Much of this can be attributed to the belated arrival of Europe’s major low-cost carriers at the airport. Ryanair operated its first flight in January 2005, while easyJet only started flights to the airport last June. Now LCCs have around 40% of scheduled capacity although TAP remains the airport’s biggest airline.

According to airportcharges.com Porto’s fees are not significantly cheaper than those at either Faro or Lisbon, and nowhere near as competitive as airports in neighbouring Spain. Presumably some kind of incentive scheme has been used in recent years to attract new airlines and, in particular, new destinations.

Chart: Porto traffic 1996-2007
Source: ANA

Seasonality of demand is quite pronounced with a peak in August and a major dip in February. With Easter falling in March this year as opposed to the more normal April the monthly demand profile is slightly altered.

Chart: Porto airport seasonality
Source: ANA

Traffic in the first four months of 2008 is up an impressive 20% helped by the many new routes Ryanair began operating at the end of 2007.

Airline Frequency share Capacity share Number of routes
TAP Portugal 57.3% 46.2% 19
Ryanair 14.8% 22.1% 14
easyJet 4.8% 5.8% 4
Lufthansa 4.3% 5.1% 1 (FRA)
Transavia.com 2.9% 4.1% 1 (ORY)
Iberia 5.1% 3.9% 1 (MAD)
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 5 May 2008

TAP’s route network consists of 77 weekly domestic departures to Lisbon plus a broad range of major European cities. Long-haul destinations such as Caracas (weekly), New York Newark (four flights weekly) and Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro (each served thrice weekly) are also served.

Image: Ryanair at Porto
Porto’s traffic in the first four months of 2008 is up an impressive 20% helped by the many new routes Ryanair began operating at the end of 2007.

Ryanair will add a 15th destination, Birmingham, in June and has yet to drop any of the routes is has started. Other airlines with scheduled services include Air Berlin (daily to Palma de Mallorca), clickair (daily to Barcelona), Aigle Azur (daily to Paris Orly), TUIfly.com (thrice weekly to Cologne/Bonn, Hamburg and Stuttgart), Brussels Airlines (daily to, you guessed it, Brussels), Volareweb (thrice weekly to Milan Malpensa), Luxair (twice weekly to Luxembourg) and Air France (six times weekly to Bordeaux). British Airways has revealed plans to start a service from London Gatwick later this summer.

Portugal, France and Spain vie for top country market

Seat capacity on domestic routes is marginally higher than on routes to France and Spain. The UK and Germany round out the top five country markets.

Chart: Porto’s top 10 country markets
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 5 May 2008
Image: Casa da Musica concert hall
The Casa da Musica concert hall in Porto was shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize for architecture in 2007. Whereas the Guggenheim in Bilbao is all swooping curves, this building is all flat surfaces. Whether it becomes as popular as a tourist attraction remains to be seen.

Paris is served by Transavia.com, TAP Portugal and Aigle Azur (to Orly) and easyJet and TAP Portugal (to CDG), while Ryanair flies to Paris Beauvais. Bordeaux, Lyon and Marseille are the other destinations served in France. Iberia, Ryanair and TAP Portugal all compete head-to-head on the Madrid route, while clickair and TAP Portugal serve Barcelona and Ryanair serves Girona. The UK market has no direct competition with TAP Portugal serving Gatwick and Heathrow leaving Ryanair to serve Bristol, London Stansted and Liverpool.


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