UK still #1 growth market for Ryanair and easyJet; Ryanair growing fast in Spain, easyJet in France

Image: Permanent revolution: In the great power struggle between the two quite different low cost airline ideologies the UK remains the single largest market for both carriers - 2.5 times bigger than the next biggest, Spain.
Permanent revolution: In the great power struggle between the two quite different low cost airline ideologies the UK remains the single largest market for both carriers – 2.5 times bigger than the next biggest, Spain.

As regular readers of anna.aero will know, European LCCs Ryanair and easyJet have started more new routes in the last 12 months than anybody else. Both have their biggest operational base in the UK (Ryanair at London Stansted, easyJet at London Gatwick) but also have bases spread across most of Europe. However, the UK market is still by far the largest for both carriers in terms of weekly departures. This is unlikely to change in a hurry even if Ryanair does go ahead with its recent threat to ground around 30% of its Stansted based fleet this winter.

Chart: Ryanair + easyJet top 6 country markets
Source: OAG Max Online for July 2008

Spain, a market that Ryanair only entered in 2003, is the second biggest for both airlines. Combining figures for the two airlines reveals that the UK market is still two and a half times bigger than the Spanish market in terms of weekly departures. Ryanair’s next biggest country markets are Italy, Ireland and Germany while for easyJet France, Italy and Switzerland represent their next biggest.

Both airlines have some ‘monopoly’ markets

easyJet, despite various attempts, currently has no presence in the Irish market. It did operate to Cork, Knock and Shannon (from London Gatwick) during 2005-06 but a vigorous response from Ryanair resulted in the airline reallocating capacity elsewhere. Ryanair is also planning to dramatically cut capacity in Dublin this winter complaining that airport charges are too high for many routes to be viable during the off-peak season.

Chart: Ryanair + easyJet other country markets
Source: OAG Max Online for July 2008

Apart from Ireland Ryanair also currently has no competition from easyJet in Finland, Lithuania, Norway, Slovakia and Sweden. easyJet has served Slovakia in the past while it has just announced plans to serve Helsinki (from London Gatwick) starting this winter. It also revealed last month that it would be starting flights to Stockholm from Milan Malpensa and has just started selling a new route from Geneva to Stockholm which will start at the end of October.

easyJet also has some ‘monopoly’ markets in which Ryanair is absent. Bulgaria, Estonia, Greece and Slovenia were existing easyJet markets with no Ryanair presence but the acquisition of GB Airways has added Cyprus, Egypt, Gibraltar and Turkey to easyJet’s markets that do not yet include Ryanair.

Until quite recently easyJet had no presence in Belgium and Ryanair was not seen in Switzerland but Brussels Zaventum finally enticed easyJet to start services last June (to Geneva) while Ryanair has turned up at Basle and launched five routes at the end of 2007.

UK still #1 market for additional flights

An exclusive anna.aero analysis of new routes added by easyJet and Ryanair during the last 12 months reveals that the UK has still benefited the most.

easyJet Ryanair
New routes added 120 220
Additional weekly frequencies 1,244 1,614
Airports receiving new routes 81 110
Top 5 countries
(total weekly frequencies of
routes when launched)
1. UK 354
2. France 244
3. Spain 153
4. Italy 114
5. Portugal 60
1. UK 375
2. Spain 294
3. Italy 186
4. Germany 158
5. Ireland 128
Source: Derived from airline websites
Image: easyJet at Lyon
The new base at Lyon and another at CDG helped easyJet to 40% capacity growth in France.

For easyJet the last 12 months has seen a particular focus on the French market with the creation of two new bases in Paris Charles de Gaulle and Lyon helping the airline to increase capacity in France by around 40%. In contrast the German market has only grown by around 13% and this winter easyJet will be significantly reducing its activities at Dortmund, its second German base.

In contrast Ryanair has been focussing on the increasingly competitive Spanish market and has added around 40% of capacity in the last 12 months through new bases in Valencia and Alicante and further expansion at Barcelona Girona. A new base at Reus begins later this year. Ryanair has also been very active in the German market with capacity growth of around 35% in the last year helped by starting new bases at Bremen and Dűsseldorf Weeze.

Image: Ryanair route launch event promoting services from Lake Balaton (Hungary) to Ryanair’s new base at Dűsseldorf Weeze
Another dazzling Ryanair route launch event, this time promoting services from Lake Balaton (Hungary) to Ryanair’s new base at Dűsseldorf Weeze – its German capacity expanded 35% last year.

Netherlands and Norway see little growth

Some countries have seen little change in easyJet and Ryanair’s presence in the last year. Ryanair has added few routes from Haugesund and Oslo Torp in Norway while easyJet still has no routes there at all. easyJet has added no new routes in Amsterdam and Ryanair has added just a couple each from Eindhoven and Maastricht.

While both airlines have been busy expanding services to and from Poland, the Bulgarian and Romanian markets are still relatively underserved. While easyJet has made few changes to its operations in Budapest and Prague Ryanair has entered both of these markets for the first time during the last year.


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