Ryanair transatlantic U-turn: anna.aero examines the “what if scenario” revealing where it may have flown
“In the light of recent press coverage, the Board of Ryanair Holdings Plc wishes to clarify that it has not considered or approved any transatlantic project and does not intend to do so.” So reads the full transcript of the Ryanair Stock Exchange statement ending a curious week of “miscommunication” made worse by the St Patrick’s Day holiday. Therefore there’s no new airline with a new brand (we thought “O’LearJet” or the more PC “Ryanair Atlantic”) and Ryanair is definitely not looking at 14 European bases to fly to US destinations including Boston, Chicago, Florida, Miami, New York and Washington. The emphatic retraction will have brought big sighs of relief in legacy airline board rooms in London, Frankfurt, Chicago and Atlanta, airlines which have already surrendered their respective short-haul network territory to the LCCs and now generally only make profits from long-haul (which is often already much pretty ‘low cost’ anyway, without the mainstream low cost competitors jumping in). Ryanair’s arrival on the Atlantic would have been made more worrying now that it is cosying up to business passengers, and flying into more primary airports around Europe which could have potentially fed any planned transatlantic routes.
Turning bases into hubs – the perfect 10 airports
Despite denying any intentions in its Stock Exchange statement (the earlier reported comments suggested it was looking at up to 14 European bases including London Stansted, Dublin, Cologne Bonn, Berlin, plus others in Spain, Italy and Scandinavia), anna.aero has identified 10 Ryanair bases which it could have potentially turned into ready made hubs with Ryanair feed. The 10 airports, and the criteria for choosing them, are as follows:
- London Stansted (STN) – (named in the “miscommunication”) – Ryanair’s #1 base in terms of weekly seats;
- Dublin (DUB) – (named in the “miscommunication”) Ryanair’s #2 largest base in terms of weekly seats; biggest airport in Ireland in terms of US capacity (21,535 weekly seats);
- Cologne Bonn (CGN) – (named in the “miscommunication”) – a new Ryanair base (#68), also sat strategically between Düsseldorf and Frankfurt;
- Berlin Schönefeld (SXF) – (named in the “miscommunication”) another new base (#73) which will one day be the home of new Berlin airport;
- Madrid (MAD) – biggest airport in Spain in terms of US capacity (25,288 weekly seats); it is also Ryanair’s #6 largest base in terms of weekly seats;
- Barcelona (BCN) – second biggest airport in Spain in terms of US capacity (7,433 weekly seats); it is also Ryanair’s #5 largest base in terms of weekly seats;
- Rome Fiumicino (FCO) – biggest airport in Italy in terms of US capacity (23,948 weekly seats); it is also a new base (#61) under Ryanair’s new strategy of serving ‘main’ city airports; Rome Fiumicino is Ryanair’s #16 largest base in terms of weekly seats. (Rome Ciampino is Ryanair’s #7 largest base, but its runway is only 2,200m long limiting potential long-haul operations – and Ryanair only likes long runways to save on fuel and aircraft wear.)
- Milan/Bergamo (BGY) – this could potentially be switched to Milan Malpensa if Ryanair continues to follow its current strategy of serving ‘main’ airports (although we think Bergamo is a very nice airport!!!); Milan Malpensa is the second biggest airport in Italy in terms of US capacity (10,646 weekly seats); Milan/Bergamo is also Ryanair’s #3 largest base in terms of weekly seats;
- Copenhagen (CPH) ‒ biggest airport in Scandinavia in terms of US capacity (9,884 weekly seats); it is also a new base (#70) under Ryanair’s new strategy of serving ‘main’ city airports;
- Stockholm Skavsta (NYO) – this could well be switched to Stockholm Arlanda (ARN) if Ryanair continues to follow its current strategy of serving ‘main’ airports; Stockholm is the second biggest airport in Scandinavia in terms of US capacity (7,778 weekly seats).
Of course, Ryanair Atlantic could have decided to stay away from easy pickings (the airports with currently the most US capacity) and instead go for some other options in Spain, Italy and Scandinavia. On that basis, it could also have experimented with some old-fashioned Ryanair market-making and go to an airport which has no US service at all…maybe Valencia (#29 largest operation for Ryanair), presuming it elected to avoid providing US services to the bigger operations of Palma de Mallorca (#8) Malaga (#10) or Alicante (#14). In a similar strategy it may have brought expanded US services to partially-tested destinations like Pisa (#11), which presently only has a limited peak season Delta Air Lines service to New York JFK.
It would have been JFK rather than EWR
On the other side of the Atlantic anna.aero data elves also examined potential US destinations that would have made sense for Ryanair and the possible frequency of service. The now-denied reports said it was considering Boston, Chicago, Florida, Miami, New York and Washington. It is noticeable that no US West Coast destinations were mentioned, unlike fellow LCC Norwegian which serves Oakland (OAK) and Los Angeles (along with New York (JFK), Fort Lauderdale (FLL) and Orlando (MCO) on the East Coast). While Boston (BOS) and Chicago (ORD) would offer no airport choice, the field would have been open to a much wider selection of airports at other cities. But we think Ryanair Atlantic would have gone to these airports:
For New York ‒ New York JFK was selected – the biggest US point of entry from Europe (151,042 weekly seats – more than double of New York Newark) and following Ryanair’s new strategy of serving ‘main’ city airports;
For Florida – Orlando was selected – the biggest US point of entry from Europe (22,058 weekly seats – more than four times bigger than Tampa and Orlando Sanford combined) for this city/region and following Ryanair’s new strategy of serving ‘main’ city airports;
For Washington – Washington Dulles was selected – the biggest US point of entry from Europe (44,992 weekly seats – more than thirty times bigger than Baltimore/Washington) for this city/region and following Ryanair’s new strategy of serving ‘main’ city airports;
For Miami – Miami was selected – the biggest US point of entry from Europe (39,987 weekly seats – more than 15 times bigger than Fort Lauderdale and Southwest Florida combined) for this city/region and following Ryanair’s new strategy of serving ‘main’ city airports;
Quick and dirty QSI
In terms of calculating the potential weekly frequencies between these city pairs to be flown in the summer season by Ryanair Atlantic (see methodology at the bottom of the page) a sort of ‘quick and dirty’ QSI, was followed by our fastidious data elves. The resulting table illustrates market frequency/stimulated frequency for each potential airport pair. The total market frequency + stimulated frequency is indicated in TOTAL 1 column; TOTAL 2 is just market frequency.
|Base Airport||New York*||Boston||Chicago||Washington~||Orlando^||Miami+||TOTAL 1||TOTAL 2|
|London Stansted (STN)||14/0||7/0||7/0||7/0||7/0||7/0||49||49|
|Cologne Bonn (CGN)||7/0||2/0||5/0||5/0||2/0||6/0||27||27|
|Rome Fiumicino (FCO)||7/0||2/0||2/0||5/0||0/2||2/0||20||18|
|Berlin Schönefeld (SXF)||6/0||2/0||4/0||2/0||2/0||2/0||18||18|
|Stockholm Skavsta (NYO)||2/0||0/2||2/0||0/2||0/2||2/0||12||6|
|*New York JFK/ New York Newark; ~Washington Dulles/Baltimore/Washington; ^Orlando/Orlando Sanford/Tampa; +Miami/Fort Lauderdale/Southwest Florida.|
Unsurprisingly, London Stansted leads the way with the potential for nearly 50 weekly flights to the six US destinations, with New York JFK offered twice daily. The US airport would have also been the most popular US destination for Ryanair Atlantic, with 67 weekly frequencies anticipated. At the opposite end of the scale, Stockholm Skavsta would only offer twice-weekly frequencies across all six destinations, with half of these requiring to be ‘stimulated’ as they are presently unserved from the Stockholm city/region market.
It is important to stress that this analysis is based on summer season analysis only, winter season services would probably see frequency reductions across many of the routes. It is also based on capacity from S15 schedules ‒ naturally S19 or S20 capacities (the date when it was reported that airline might launch) would look very different to this.
What a shame none of this is ever going to happen…or is it???