This winter, Ryanair versus the world (again)

This season’s latest: 128 new routes, 53 (or 41% of the total) generated by Ryanair across 12 countries and another building block in the brand’s probable international spread (although profits will always come before exotic ambition).

As well as the clocks going back one hour last Sunday, it was also the start of the so-called winter season, which runs through until the end of March. Many airlines, particularly in Europe, use this as an opportunity to significantly change their schedules, reducing capacity on routes that exhibit significant demand seasonality and seeking niche markets that work well during the traditional off-peak winter season.

For the first week of the winter season (Saturday 24 October – Friday 30 October), has logged a total of 128 routes starting this week. Two years ago, the corresponding figure was 238, while last year it was 195. What has not changed is that Ryanair is starting more new routes than any other airline. Two years ago it was 69, last year it was 93 while this year it is 53 (a massive 41% of all new routes starting this week). The number of new routes started by the rest of the world’s airlines has fallen from 169 two years ago, to 102 last year and just 75 this year. However, our records indicate that a further 100 new routes will be started by the world’s airlines (including Ryanair) during the next seven days, and over 200 more between the end of next week and the end of the winter season, with more being announced all the time.

No big headline story this winter

Image: Continental Airlines moved from SkyTeam to Star Alliance this week
Big enough news? Continental Airlines moved from SkyTeam to Star Alliance this week, but does it compare with the first flight of the A380 or the closure of Berlin Tempelhof?

Two years ago (is it already that long?) saw the first commercial A380 flights with Singapore Airlines while last year saw the closure of historic Berlin Tempelhof and the demise of one of Europe’s larger low-cost airlines (Sterling). The start of this winter’s programme has failed to deliver any historic events unless you count Continental’s swap of alliance allegiance from SkyTeam to Star. Maybe next winter will finally see the launch of commercial flights on Boeing’s much delayed 787 Dreamliner.

Apart from Ryanair’s new routes, many of the remaining new routes started this week are also being operated by the world’s low-cost airlines including Aer Lingus, Air Arabia, Blue Air, Germanwings, jetBlue, Jetstar, Norwegian and Wizz Air. However, legacy airlines such as British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Egyptair, Emirates, Gulf Air, Qatar Airways, TAP Portugal, Tarom and Thai Airways have also chosen this week to roll out new services.

Ryanair’s 53 new routes focus on Spain

Many of Ryanair’s new services are to the Canary Islands in Spain with most operating at low frequency. Across the 53 new routes, the average frequency is just 3.2 flights per week. Unusually, two routes are starting with double daily service; Stockholm Skavsta to both Brussels Charleroi and Oslo Rygge. Of the 106 airports involved in the airline’s new routes, 46 are in Spain, 25 are in the UK and eight are in Germany. The remaining 27 airports are spread across a further nine countries.

For a full list of all of this week’s new routes in Excel format click here.

Download the week’s new route spreadsheet


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