easyJet (Lyon) and Ryanair (Marseille) prove French domestic routes can be stimulated

Image: Ryanair at MP2
Ahhhh Marseille’s mp2 terminal…looking just as glamorous as Ryanair likes it. Since Ryanair increased frequencies on Marseille-Lille to double-daily in April, demand has almost tripled and is on course to reach 300,000 this year. Marseille-Nantes has also seen demand stimulated by 75% since Ryanair began services earlier this year.

The French domestic market is dominated by routes to and from Paris with 13 routes handling more than 400,000 annual passengers. In 2007 the busiest domestic routes not involving Paris were Marseille to Ajaccio (270,000 passengers) and Lyon to Bordeaux (268,000).

When easyJet opened a base in Lyon in April 2008 among the new routes launched were double-daily services to Bordeaux (from 4 April) and Toulouse (from 2 May). These would both compete directly against Air France’s multiple daily services.

The results, while not as spectacular as those achieved on some UK domestic services, are still impressive. Immediately, passenger numbers increased by around 50% on both routes. By the end of 2008 an additional 100,000 passengers had flown on both routes proving that even in the French domestic market lower fares would indeed stimulate travel demand significantly.

Chart: Lyon - Bordeaux 2007-09 - Monthly passengers
Source: Lyon Airport
Chart: Lyon - Toulouse 2007-09 - Monthly passengers
Source: Lyon Airport

Between 2000 and 2007 traffic had remained virtually unchanged on both routes as Air France enjoyed, and took advantage of, its monopoly position.

Image: easyJet at Lyon
easyJet won a previous anna.aero Cake of the Week for this non-edible effort in celebration of its first birthday at the Lyon base in April. By boosting Lyon-Bordeaux and Toulouse services by 50% in that first year, the airline has proven that lower fares can stimulate travel demand significantly, even in the French domestic market.

Ryanair stimulating Marseille domestic routes

More recently Ryanair has begun domestic flights from its Marseille base to Lille (since 28 October 2008) and Nantes (since 30 March 2009). In 2007 the Lille route generated 114,000 passengers and the Nantes route 163,000. Since Ryanair increased frequencies on the Lille route to double-daily in April, demand has almost tripled and this year passenger numbers on the route will be close to 300,000. The Nantes route, which Ryanair serves daily, has seen passenger demand stimulated by around 75% since Ryanair began the route earlier this year.


  1. Jon Soars says:

    Any airline can stimulate passenger growth through low fares but how many can turn a profit? Do Ryanair and Easyjet make money on these routes or do we think they are subsidised from profits made elsewhere? Views..?

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