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Sardinia to get major boost in 2009 with two new Ryanair bases; Meridiana and Air One under pressure

Map: Alghero and Cagliari bases

Ryanair’s recent decision to designate both Alghero and Cagliari on the island of Sardinia as bases is another step in the airline’s on-going expansion in the Italian market. Passenger traffic at Sardinia’s three main airports of Alghero, Cagliari and Olbia has almost doubled from just under three million in 1996 to over five and a half million in 2007. Cagliari has remained the busiest airport on the island followed by Olbia and Alghero, though thanks to Ryanair’s existing network Alghero has been the fastest growing, especially last year when passenger numbers increased by 22%.

Chart: Sardinian Airport Traffic 1994-2007
Source: ENAC

During the last 15 years traffic across the three airports has grown each year with the exception of 2001 when traffic fell by 3%. However, it rebounded by 10% the following year to put Sardinia back on a steady path of growth.

Traffic up at all three airports in 2008

In the first nine months of 2008 traffic at Alghero is up 10.1%, at Cagliari up 11.8% and also up 2.1 at Olbia.

Chart: Sardinian seasonality
Source: ENAC

Seasonality at Alghero and Cagliari is relatively normal for Mediterranean European airports with traffic around twice as high in the summer peak as in winter. However, at Olbia demand is much peakier with demand in August around seven times higher than in January and February.

Meridiana is Sardinia’s leading airline not Alitalia

Analysis of scheduled traffic during this summer’s peak month of August reveals that Alitalia has virtually no presence in Sardinia. The dominant airline at both Cagliari and Olbia is Meridiana which has around half of all scheduled seat capacity at both airports. Air One is the second largest carrier at Cagliari while easyJet is number two in Olbia.

Chart: Top airlines in Sardinai
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 4 August 2008

Ryanair is already the leading airline at Alghero thanks to its existing network of 13 summer routes which includes (during the summer peak) double-daily services to London Stansted and Pisa. Germany, Italy and the UK each have three routes while Spain has two, Ireland and Sweden one each. This winter the network is reduced to just eight routes with flights to Bremen, Dűsseldorf Weeze, East Midlands, Liverpool and Stockholm Skavsta taking a break until the start of next summer.

New based Ryanair aircraft will add 19 new routes in April

Ryanair’s decision to base, from the end of next March, one aircraft in Alghero and two in Cagliari will result in the opening of 19 new routes, five from Alghero and 14 from Cagliari. Six of the 14 new routes at Cagliari are on domestic routes highlighting Ryanair’s recent trend towards starting routes with shorter sector lengths.

Airport New routes
Alghero Brussels Charleroi, Genoa, Oslo Torp, Paris Beauvais, Venice Treviso
Cagliari Brussels Charleroi, Cuneo, Dűsseldorf Weeze, Edinburgh, Genoa, Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden, Manchester, Marseille, Paris Beauvais, Rome Ciampino, Seville, Trieste, Venice Treviso, Verona Brescia
Source: Ryanair
Map: Routes from Cagliari
From next April Ryanair’s network at Cagliari will grow from four to 18 routes with two aircraft based at the airport

Although Meridiana has over 50% of summer peak scheduled capacity at Cagliari it operates almost exclusively on domestic routes, apart from a daily flight to Paris. However, Ryanair’s decision to add routes to Rome Ciampino, Venice and Verona will compete indirectly with three of Meridiana’s biggest routes although Ryanair’s frequencies are likely to be considerably lower.


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