Bologna opens door for Ryanair to become leading carrier in 2009

Image: Bologna route launch
Another expensive overhead slide adorns the celebrations at the launch of the Bologna base during which Bologna’s Mayor, Sergio Cofferati, seals the deal with an unknown Ryanair executive. ( executives visiting Ryanair’s Dublin HQ last week found staff putting up Christmas decorations who admitted they had been allowed to buy them with the firm’s petty cash. Are the first cracks beginning to show in its cost cutting mantra?)

Bologna may be home to those stylish and iconic purveyors of ultimate speed on two and four wheels, Ducati and Lamborghini, but the city’s airport has not exactly seen passenger numbers racing ahead in 2008. In 2007 Bologna’s Guglielmo Marconi airport ranked as Italy’s 10th busiest with 4.35 million passengers. Following the runway extension in 2004 (which required the airport to be closed for two months) traffic grew at around 10% in both 2006 and 2007. However, traffic this year is around 3% down on last year.

Chart: Airport Traffic
Source: Bologna Airport

The recent decision by Ryanair to make Bologna a new base should see passenger numbers surge once more in 2009. At the start of the winter season the airline moved many of its international flights from nearby Forli airport to Bologna and now serves six destinations. As a result, this winter Ryanair will already be the fifth biggest airline at the airport.

Chart: top 12 airlines at Bologna
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 3 November 2008

Surprisingly no airline has more than a 15% market share at the airport though Meridiana, Lufthansa and Air France each have more than 10% of scheduled seat capacity this winter. A combined Alitalia and Air One will have around 16% of capacity while combing Air France and KLM capacity gives them around 13%.

Ryanair to add 11 more routes in March

Image: Lamborghini
Things to do in Bologna: after touring the nearby Lamborghini factory and museum this hungry-looking tourist would no doubt not dream of going to the airport before sampling several helpings of the city’s most famous dish.

Ryanair could base as many as five aircraft at the airport by 2013 when the number of destinations it serves should be at least 25. Eleven new routes will start at the end of March which will take the number of routes operated by Ryanair to 17. The existing routes are all to international destinations (Barcelona Girona, Birmingham, Brussels Charleroi, Dublin, Frankfurt Hahn and London Stansted) but the new routes will include four domestic routes to Bari, Brindisi, Lamezia Terme and Trapani.
These will be complemented by additional new international routes to Constanta, Dűsseldorf Weeze, Edinburgh, Granada, Katowice, Oslo Torp and Paris Beauvais. Only on the Katowice route will Ryanair face direct competition, from Wizz Air.

The first low-cost carrier to fly to Bologna was Go which started service as long ago September 1998. easyJet maintained the route from 2002 until October 2005 when the airport was dropped from the airline’s network. It has not served the airport since. Other LCCs which have a presence this winter are (to Bucharest and Paris CDG), Germanwings (to Cologne/Bonn), Wizz Air (to Katowice and Warsaw), Blue Air (also to Bucharest), jet4you (to Casablanca) and Atlas Blue (to Marrakech).

Another LCC that has been and gone is Vueling which operated flights to Madrid and Paris CDG during the summer of 2007.

According to the airport’s own statistics Meridiana was the leading airline in 2007 carrying 692,000 passengers, just under 16% of all passengers. Lufthansa, Air One (which tripled its passenger numbers at the airport in 2007) and Air France each transported more than 300,000 passengers through the airport. An estimated 537,000 passengers flew with designated low-cost airlines, led by MyAir with just over 200,000.

Image: airport terminal
Bolog-nese: traffic is down 3% this year at the airport ranked as Italy’s 10th busiest with 4.35 million passengers, although the new Ryanair base should see passenger surge again in 2009.

Domestic routes dominate; Romania growing fast

Domestic routes accounted for one-third of passenger numbers at the airport in 2007, followed by German and French routes each with just over 10%.

Chart: Top 12 country markets
Source: Bologna Airport

Among the fastest growing country markets in 2007 were Romania (where traffic quadrupled), and Cuba and Croatia (where traffic doubled). However, traffic to Hungary fell by over 90%. Paris CDG overtook Catania last year to become the leading destination thanks to MyAir giving Air France some competition on the route since October 2006 and Vueling’s brief appearance last summer. Frankfurt overtook Palermo for third place while Rome rounds out the top five destinations.


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