One in three passengers now using LCCs in Portugal; Ryanair and easyJet still adding routes

Image: Ryanair
Michael O’Leary is happy to be in Porto, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Ryanair’s new northern Portuguese base where it has almost 30% of seat capacity.

Back in early 2008, we first took a look at the Portuguese market. Passenger numbers at ANA’s airports increased by 3% in 2008 with much of the growth coming from Porto airport where Ryanair has been developing a major presence to such an extent that last month it became an official base with aircraft stationed at the airport. This enabled a number of new routes to be started including Basel, Eindhoven, Lille, St Etienne and Tours.

Chart: Traffic 96-08
Source: ANA

According to figures published by ANA, the number of passengers on low-cost carriers in 2001 was just over one million. This number has grown rapidly to reach 7.5 million in 2008, almost one-third of all passengers. Last year, when total passenger numbers grew by 3%, the number of passengers on LCCs increased by 17%.

Chart: Seasonality
Source: ANA

In the first nine months of 2009, traffic at the three major airports is down 3.9% at both Lisbon and Porto, and down 7.7% at Faro. The different seasonality profiles of the different airports can clearly be seen with Faro being the most extreme.

TAP still dominates Lisbon; foreign carriers dominate Faro

Image: easyJet
In leisure intense Faro, on the Portuguese south coast, easyJet is the largest single airline. Low-cost carriers and hybrid airlines together make up 86% of the airport’s total scheduled seats.

Each of the three major airports has a different mix of carriers and airline types. Lisbon is still dominated by TAP Portugal (60% of seat capacity spread across 63 non-stop destinations) followed by easyJet (now serving 11 destinations non-stop including a double-daily domestic route to Madeira) and Lufthansa (serving Frankfurt, Milan Malpensa and Munich). Other legacy carriers still have a 25% share of seat capacity.

In Faro, TAP has less than 10% of capacity as the airport is dominated by in-bound traffic generated by a wide range of low-cost and hybrid airlines (such as airberlin, Monarch and The three leading airlines at the airport are easyJet, Ryanair and Monarch. TAP Portugal ranks fifth (just behind airberlin), only slightly ahead of Aer Lingus. Other legacy carriers serving the airport include British Airways (to London Gatwick), Brussels Airlines and Finnair.

Chart: market share
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 9 November 2009

At Porto, TAP Portugal serves 19 destinations compared with 18 at present for Ryanair (of which 10 have been started during the last year). easyJet ranks third with five destinations, including two each in France and Switzerland. Other legacy carriers operating at the airport include Brussels Airlines, Iberia, Lufthansa and Luxair.

TAP adds four routes from Lisbon

During the last 12 months, TAP Portugal has added Helsinki, Moscow, Valencia and Warsaw to its Lisbon network, while Lufthansa Italia has added Milan Malpensa. Blue Air has added Bucharest Baneasa and easyJet is about to introduce daily flights to Rome Fiumicino. easyJet has dropped year-round services from Bristol and Liverpool, while the demise of SkyEurope means there are currently no direct services to the Austrian capital.

From Faro, there are new services to Copenhagen and Stockholm with Norwegian, to Bremen and Porto with Ryanair, and to London Gatwick with Aer Lingus.

Comparing schedule data for November 2009 with November 2008 reveals that Porto has gained 11 new services. Ten of these are provided by Ryanair while easyJet is adding a daily service from London Gatwick in early November.
However, Ryanair has also suspended year-round services to Birmingham, Pisa and Valencia while TUIfly no longer operates from Stuttgart. Finally, Air France has dropped its four-times weekly Bordeaux flights.


  1. Vanni Gibertini says:

    Interesting the differentiation between LCCs and hybrids. Wouldn’t it be time to have a formal definition for these different business models, so that we all know what we are talking about?

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