Ryanair enters London-Copenhagen market of 1.7 million annual passengers

easyJet and Ryanair go head-to-head on London to Copenhagen route

Let battle commence! easyJet already serves Copenhagen from its bases at London Gatwick, London Stansted, and from this week, London Luton. Ryanair’s David O’Brien confirmed last week that Ryanair would be serving Copenhagen from London Luton with twice-daily flights from 26 March 2015.

Ryanair’s recent announcement that it would open its 70th base at Copenhagen Airport in March 2015 revealed plans at this stage for just three definite routes; to London Luton, Milan Bergamo and Warsaw Modlin. With easyJet also starting a new Copenhagen service from London Luton this week (while reducing frequency on its London Stansted service), anna.aero this week takes a look at the development of passenger demand between London and Copenhagen.

Since 1996, when the market was just over one million passengers, demand has grown steadily to reach just over 1.7 million in 2013. The surge in traffic at Stansted in 1999 and 2000 can be explained by Go’s entry into the market with, at one point, up to four daily flights. Regular London Luton services have been (until now) conspicuous by their absence.

Chart: London - Copenhagen 1996-2013 - Annual passengers (000s) by UK airport

Source: UK CAA.

Ryanair will be third LCC to serve market

Since 2000 Copenhagen services from London Heathrow have been the preserve of British Airways and SAS, while at London Stansted easyJet has been the sole operator after its acquisition of Go, and the decision by SAS to drop their service. At London Gatwick, five carriers have served the market, though the Danish trio of Maersk Air, Sterling and Cimber Sterling are all linked by a complex series of historical acquisitions and mergers. London City services have been operated by both British Airways and SAS, but, for whatever reason, neither carrier is currently serving the market.

Year Heathrow (LHR) Gatwick (LGW) Stansted (STN) City (LCY)
2001 British Airways (34), SAS (48) Maersk Air (19) Go (12), SAS (13)
2003 British Airways (40), SAS (48) Maersk Air (20) easyJet (20)
2005 British Airways (40), SAS (40) Maersk Air (19) easyJet (20)
2007 British Airways (40), SAS (40) Sterling (20) easyJet (20) SAS (15)
2009 British Airways (36), SAS (39) Cimber Sterling (12), easyJet (12), Norwegian (12) easyJet (20) SAS (11)
2011 British Airways (40), SAS (34) easyJet (12), Norwegian (18) easyJet (17) British Airways (8)
2013 British Airways (40), SAS (28) easyJet (23), Norwegian (19) easyJet (13)
2014 British Airways (40), SAS (35) easyJet (23), Norwegian (25) easyJet (13)
Source: Innovata / Diio Mi for first week in August of each year.

Ryanair’s decision to launch services from its smaller base at London Luton, rather than its largest base at London Stansted is somewhat curious, unless the ULCC is deliberately trying to attack easyJet, something it has, on the whole, avoided in the past.


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