Marseille’s growth driven by Ryanair’s international routes; TGV took one million air passengers on Paris route

When Ryanair opened its base in Marseille in November 2006 the airport was in need of a boost. Traffic had fallen from a peak of almost 6.5 million in 2000 to under 5.4 million in 2003 and only recovered to 5.9 million in 2005. Unlike at many other airports the consequences of ‘9/11′ were not the main problem. Between 2000 and 2005 air traffic between Marseille and Paris fell from almost three million passengers to under two million, as the high-speed TGV rail network finally reached Marseille in the summer of 2001. This has reduced the rail travel time to just three hours.

Chart: Marseille airport 2000-2007 Annual passengers
Source: DGAC,

Other domestic traffic has been relatively stable for most of this decade, with growth coming on international routes where traffic has grown by 75%: from two million in 2003 to 3.5 million in 2007. After growth of almost 14% in total passenger numbers in 2007, this year has seen more modest growth with year-to-date traffic (to August) up by just 1.0%.

Chart: Marseille airport seasonality Monthly passengers
Source: Marseille Airport

Ryanair serves more destinations than Air France

Logo: mp2Ryanair was the first airline to use the mp2 low-cost terminal, which was designed specifically to attract low-cost airlines. It opened in October 2006. Apart from Ryanair, it is also currently used by bmibaby, easyJet, Germanwings, and jet4you. Ryanair’s network this summer consists of 18 routes, of which only one (to Paris Beauvais) is domestic. There are daily flights to Eindhoven, London Stansted and Madrid, while all other destinations are served between two and four times weekly. Since the start of the year, Ryanair has added new routes to Birmingham, Edinburgh, Malaga, Manchester and Paris Beauvais.

Airline Frequency share Capacity share Routes
Air France 42.9% 40.1% 14 (3/11)
Ryanair 8.0% 12.9% 18 (17/1)
CCM Airlines 11.2% 10.6% 4 (0/4)
Lufthansa 6.3% 4.3% 3 (3/0)
Air Algerie 2.9% 2.9% 7 (7/0)
Atlas Blue 1.8% 2.6% 3 (3/0)
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 29 September 2008

A total of 36 airlines operate scheduled services at present from Marseille. Air France is still the dominant carrier in terms of flights and seats, but 60% of its capacity is to just one city, Paris, where it serves both CDG and Orly. Its only international routes are to Algiers, Rome and Tunis. Other LCCs operating at MRS include: easyJet (to Bristol and London Gatwick), Aer Lingus (to Dublin), Germanwings (to Cologne/Bonn) and bmibaby (to Birmingham). Other flag-carriers serving the airport include: Air Malta, Alitalia, British Airways, Brussels Airlines, CSA Czech Airlines, Iberia, KLM, Luxair, Royal Air Maroc, TAP Portugal and Tunis Air.

German routes have failed to deliver

Before the end of the year Ryanair will add two further domestic routes to Brest and Lille and three new routes to Morocco (Agadir, Nador and Tangier). Not all of Ryanair’s routes have been a success. Since opening its base less than two years ago, it has started and since dropped all its routes to Germany (Frankfurt Hahn, Hamburg Lűbeck and Karlsruhe/Baden), as well as Malmo and Rome Ciampino.

North African markets play a key role

Analysis reveals that domestic routes account for just over 50% of all scheduled flights, with the biggest international markets consisting of the UK (7.4% of capacity), Morocco (6.0%), Algeria (5.6%) and Germany (5.0%). The popularity of the North African markets comes as no surprise given Marseille’s history and the importance of its port in developing trade links. Marseille’s long-haul network plays a key role, making it the largest French regional airport for its number of long haul scheduled routes. This includes new scheduled routes in 2008 to Yerevan (Armenia), Libreville (Gabon), Praia (Cabo Verde) and Punta Cana (Dominican Republic).

Image: Marseille Mp2 Terminal
Marseille’s low-cost mp2 terminal was opened in October 2006 in a converted former cargo facility. With no carpets, air bridges or air-conditioning, the airport charges airlines considerably less for the privilege of using mp2. Ryanair will operate to over 20 destinations from the terminal this winter.


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