Ryanair closes Valencia base; nine routes added to “Routes Recycle Bin” but 12 routes may have escaped axe

Image: Ryanair story cut out from the Irish Times
The Irish Times reported Ryanair’s decision to close its Valencia base on 25 October. While the news has received widespread attention, Ryanair has so far only dropped nine of the 21 routes that it has been operating this summer.

Ryanair’s recent decision to close its Valencia base received much public attention, especially as the base was only started last October. However, on closer inspection the airline has so far only dropped nine of the 21 routes that it has been operating this summer. Nine other routes that are operated by aircraft from other bases do not appear to be affected. These are routes from Brussels Charleroi, Dublin, Dűsseldorf Weeze, Frankfurt Hahn, Madrid, Milan Bergamo, Pisa, Rome Ciampino and Stockholm Skavsta.

When anna.aero checked Ryanair’s website booking tool this week for flights in mid-January, seats could still be booked on flights from Valencia to Brussels Charleroi, Frankfurt Hahn, London Stansted, Madrid, Milan Bergamo, Pisa and Rome Ciampino.

This leaves three other existing destinations (Basel, Billund and Karlsruhe-Baden) which, if they are to continue, will need to be operated as a “W” from some other base.

Ryanair first started serving Valencia in November 2004 when it launched flights from London Stansted in direct competition with easyJet. Services to Milan Bergamo and Rome Ciampino started in 2005, while Brussels Charleroi, Dublin, Frankfurt Hahn and Pisa started in 2006. East Midlands services began in early 2007 followed by 13 new routes during October 2007 when Ryanair first started basing aircraft there.

Chart: Valencia airport traffic 1999-2008
Source: AENA

Valencia traffic doubles in just three years

Passenger numbers have virtually doubled at Valencia from three million in 2004 to almost six million in 2007. So far in 2008 passenger traffic is up around 3% and Ryanair has been the leading airline carrying well over one million passengers in the first nine months of the year. Ryanair’s assertion that closing the base will cost Valencia around 750,000 passengers annually confirms that the airline will still probably be carrying around half a million passengers through the airport in 2009 leaving it as the airport’s second biggest airline, even after the base closure.

Image: Valencia airport traffic 2008
Source: AENA

Ryanair’s passengers represent around one quarter of all airport traffic. The six next biggest airlines are all Spanish followed by easyJet, airberlin and TUIfly.com.

Performance of dropped routes in 2008

Ryanair has dropped nine routes from this week including one, Santiago de Compostela, on which it competes with Air Nostrum. On the other eight routes, on which Ryanair is the only carrier, data from AENA reveals how they have performed since last October. All of the dropped routes were started in 2007 with only the East Midlands route starting earlier than October.

Chart: Ryanair’s “dropped” routes from Valencia
Source: AENA

While some of the routes, like Maastricht and Liverpool, do appear to have performed poorly others such as Forli (Bologna) and East Midlands appear to have generated good demand during the year, though this may be at the expense of yield.


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