Ryanair to launch Amsterdam base; London, Paris, Barcelona and Frankfurt likely new route targets

Ryanair Schiphol

With its nine new slot pairs at Amsterdam anna.aero predicts Ryanair’s new Schiphol base will focus on frequent daily services to other big cities which are also Ryanair bases: London Stansted, Paris Beauvais, Barcelona and Frankfurt Hahn achieving 10-15% market shares on these heavily competed routes. We do not think Ryanair will serve Rome until it can get more slots and thereby compete on frequency.

Well it seems increasingly likely that Ryanair is going to be launching an Amsterdam base this winter. The Irish ULCC has been offered a batch of slots at Schiphol – nine daily pairs in fact ‒ as the airline continues its move towards using more primary airports in its revised strategy of trying to attract higher average yields. Confirmed by Stichting Airport Coordination Netherlands (SACN), which handles slot allocation at the country’s airports, the slots are available from W15/16. Ryanair has until 31 August to confirm whether it will take them up or return them to SACN. The airline had previously applied for slots at Amsterdam for the S14 season, but did not take up its allotted batch, apparently due to a shortage of available aircraft.

However for regular readers of anna.aero this is not news, as back on 8 October last year, after our wise data elves did some of their best beard-scratching yet, they told you exactly where they thought Ryanair’s next three ‘primary’ airport bases would be. Our top three options were Amsterdam, London Gatwick and Paris Orly (with Copenhagen in fourth – which subsequently was announced as a base 21 days later on 29 October). So hats off to our data elves, extra rations for them this week.

Ryanair bases

Ryanair currently has 73 bases, because the airline has failed to update this map (taken from its FY14/15 presentation), or indeed the one on its website (as of 13 July), with base #74 – Gothenburg (although Copenhagen has been downgraded from a base to an outstation on its website as a result of the current labour issues). With the opening of a potential base #75 at Amsterdam this winter, the ULCC will be trying to link-up the Dutch capital with other primary business centres on its network like London, Paris and Barcelona.

Where will ‘New Ryanair’ fly from Schiphol?

To determine these potential ‘primary’ airport bases, our data elves did some scientific number-crunching in order to establish the most likely opportunities for the airline. We concentrated on identifying the high-volume, high-yielding markets now increasingly important to ‘New Ryanair’, rather than the leisure and VFR-orientated and regional destinations the ultra-low cost carrier used to be famous for. It now only seems right and proper that we try and establish on which routes the Irish ULCC will look to enter from the Amsterdam market ‒ as our data elves did last year with easyJet – first announcing that it would become a base, and then telling you where the LCC would fly.

There are several limiting factors for the ULCC (and our data elves) to consider when deciding which cities to serve. The first being the fact that just nine daily pairs of slots are being made available to Ryanair. This will restrict the level of frequency and number of new routes that the ULCC will be able to offer. Secondly, the timings of the slots may also not be favourable for a ‘business’ schedule – for example the slots may be at quieter times of the day outside the peak travel hours of 0600-0900 and 1600-1900 which allow business travellers a convenient day return option, but also maximising work time at either end of the route.

For the purpose of this analysis it has been assumed that the airline has been given access to a workable profile of slots allowing for day-return business traveller traffic. Again, given Europe’s biggest airline’s latest penchant for targeting high-frequency, high-volume, high-yielding markets, our data elves have concentrated their search for new route gold there, rather than on the twice-weekly services to secondary, tertiary and downright in the middle of nowhere airport opportunities that the airline used to be renowned for.

Chart - Top 12 European destinations from Amsterdam Weekly seats

Source: OAG Schedules Analyser w/c 13 July.

Looking at the top 12 European routes by one-way weekly seats on offer from Amsterdam this summer, eight of the destinations already have an existing Ryanair base, either at the exact airport in question, for example Barcelona (and are highlighted in Ryanair colours of dark blue and yellow) or in the same city, for example London Heathrow is not a Ryanair base, but London Stansted is (these airports are highlighted in a lighter blue and lighter yellow). The remaining four airports – Paris CDG, Istanbul Atatürk, Munich and Zurich ‒ are not currently a home for a Ryanair base, either directly or at a secondary airport serving the same city.  The last three airports of these four have therefore been ruled out of this evaluation, with Paris only remaining within the analysis due to airline’s existing Paris Beauvais network (despite being the airline’s ninth biggest operation by weekly seats, it is not a base).

London likely, Paris probably

Given the scale of the Amsterdam-London opportunity, it would seem impossible for Ryanair to ignore grabbing a piece of this market, which in 2014 totalled over 3.6m annual passengers (according to UK CAA figures). When all six served London airport’s (Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton, Stansted, City and Southend) weekly seats are combined, the capacity available rockets up to over 46,000 from the 19,000 provided by British Airways and KLM just at Heathrow.

Ryanair Easyjet Amsterdam

Last summer our data elves ‘leaked’ to you when easyJet was about to launch its base at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and where it was going to fly a few weeks later – making this lot very happy. Last October we also told you that Ryanair would select the Dutch hub as a ‘primary’ base, so now it’s time to tell you where it is going to fly. With a London service seemingly likely, you’re probably not singing any more if you are part of the Luton-based orange brigade, which has flights to four London airports from Amsterdam.

With London a dead cert for Ryanair, and presumably being flown from Amsterdam into its London Stansted base, the next thing to determine is the level of frequency, especially given the finite number of slots available at the Dutch end of the airport pair, as well as the other new routes. To calculate an appropriate entry level of frequency in a market, a 10% rule of thumb has been used ‒ i.e. Ryanair would seek to achieve at least a 10% penetration in terms of one-way weekly seats available across all other airlines flying into all other airports in the destination city. On that basis, the following new routes and frequencies are deemed the most likely:

London (STN): four times daily operation (5,292 seats); total seats in market (including Ryanair) = 51,753 (10.2% market penetration for Ryanair);

Paris (BVA): double-daily operation (2,646 seats); total seats in market (including Ryanair) = 18,138 (15% market penetration for Ryanair);

Barcelona (BCN): double-daily operation (2,646 seats); total seats in market (including Ryanair) = 17,157 (15% market penetration for Ryanair).

With just a single daily operation left to place from the potential nine available, the city pair from Amsterdam to Rome only achieved a market penetration of 8.9%, and as a result is not considered as an option for Ryanair at this stage with the remaining frequencies it has available. Should the airline gain further slots at Amsterdam, it is very likely that this route will then be activated. So the last daily slot pair will be used by the #5 airport from the top 12 destination listing:

Frankfurt (HHN): daily operations (1,323 seats); total seats in market (including Ryanair) = 12,953 (10.2% market penetration).

So there we have our top four picks – London Stansted, Paris Beauvais, Barcelona and Frankfurt Hahn – based on the above selection criteria. With London covered (ruling out a Gatwick service), the remaining three remaining ‘primary’ airports in the top 12 – Madrid, Copenhagen and Manchester ‒ should however not rule themselves out of the running as Ryanair may well consider the ‘secondary’ status of Paris Beauvais and Frankfurt Hahn not ‘worthy’ under the ULCC’s revised strategy and opt to serve these ‘main’ city airports instead.

King KLM about to face its toughest test yet?

With nearly 24,000 weekly seats spread across the four potential Ryanair destinations, unsurprisingly KLM has the most capacity at risk from the ULCC’s entry into its Amsterdam hub this winter. However, it is precisely that, the SkyTeam carrier’s hub, which will probably shelter the airline’s operations from Ryanair’s likely capacity onslaught, as it has huge volumes of transfer and transit traffic to draw upon. With services into four London airports at the moment, easyJet will also not be sleeping easily about the arrival of its nemesis on its patch. Whether the two competitors will go toe-to-toe or tip-toe around each other will be an interesting fight well-worth watching.

Ryanair route from AMS Competitors (and airports flown) One-way, weekly seats across all airports
London (STN) easyJet (LGW, LTN, STN, SEN) 17,040
British Airways (LHR, LGW, LCY) 13,802
KLM (LHR) 9,692
CityJet (LCY) 4,515
Garuda Indonesia (LGW) 1,256
Flybe (LCY) 156
Paris (BVA) Air France (CDG) 10,933
KLM (CDG) 3,314
transavia.com France (ORY) 945
TACV (CDG) 300
Barcelona (BCN) KLM (BCN) 5,818
Vueling (BCN) 5,664
transavia.com (BCN) 3,013
Frankfurt (HHN) Lufthansa (FRA) 7,930
KLM (FRA) 3,700
Source: OAG Schedules Analyser w/c 13 July.


  1. James Pearson says:

    AMS-HHN? It’s only 196 miles as the crow flies (170nm) and the train from Amsterdam to Frankfurt takes <4 hours. Of course, HHN's catchment extends well beyond the city of Frankfurt, but still.

  2. Arthur Dent says:

    Not sure about AMS-BVA. Amsterdam to Paris is only just over 3 hours by train. I know AF and KL both serve the market but how much of that is point-to-point and how much is mutual hub feeding? Also BVA is not a Ryanair base. It is indeed one of their busiest airports (top 10?) but fed from many of its other bases with additional “W” operations (as the Ryanair base/route map you reproduce confirms).

    • Marc Watkins says:

      This is a reply to both Arthur and James…both of your points are valid…and they would of course been built into any decision making being made at Ryanair HQ by its excellent network planning team about its plans for AMS. We have a few hours to turn a snippet of news into an interesting story that is thought provoking and promotes debate. So on that basis…I think we have succeeded…

  3. Maros Marko says:

    I think you are utterly wrong with assuming HHN and BVA to be the new destinations. On such short routes the FR flights are not really an option, considering that there are better alternatives as flying into Hahn which leaves you in the middle of nowhere and requires quite a long trip with ground transportation, which is far from ideal.

    I would rather think they will go for more longer routes and will try to compete with EasyJet on some of their routes. Also, given the fact that FR is very unlikely to actually base aircraft there, they will most likely fly in from other bases. So this opens up quite some possibilities. I am not sure what times they actually got, but most likely they will not be in the peak hours. I would also assume that due to this they will not go for business routes / frequency, but rather offer more destinations with less rotations.

  4. Maf says:

    Why you think Ryanair will establish base at AMS? Thats not necessary. I know MOL likes battles, but as Maros wrote they may prefer more destinations and of course something longer than HHN. In my opinion DUB is must. Another great destinations could be from middle Europe.

  5. BILL says:

    I don’t think HHN or BVA will be RYR’s destinations.

    I’m betting on London, Barcelona or somewhere nearby, somewhere north Italy and Rome.
    Then they should take on Greece, als Olympic has ceased and Aegean does not fly to AMS. Thessaloniki would be nice, RYR can beat Transavia on that route.

    Lastly: there are no more direct flights between AMS and Cyprus – some chances there as well

  6. MB says:

    Can’t imagine DUB wouldn’t be served, especially as it’s currently an Aer Lingus monopoly route. DUB-AMS has been crying out for competition for years.

  7. Phil says:

    I think, if Germany, the most likely will be FMM and not HHN. Why? FMM serves as MUC alternative, as Munich is right in between these two airports and has direct access to the Alps. Dutch love the Alps in winter as well as in summer (see flights to INN, and many final Destinations are between FMM and INN). So you have business and leisure on there and yields should be high when comparing flight prices from AMS to the Alps).

  8. James Pearson says:

    While BVA and HHN are hopefully non-starters, I do remember that odd DUB-SNN (!!!) that FR operated. Putting aside limited initial slots, there is a huge amount that FR could do at AMS. No doubt 2x or 3x daily AMS-STN will materialise quite quickly.

  9. Tony says:

    AMS – STN x 5, to drive EJ out of Stansted. EJ clearly picked routes they thought FR wouldn’t go after. FR have slowly been adding the airports EJ had to themselves out of STN (Prague, Glasgow, Copenhagen, Munich). They would love to drive them from Stansted.
    AMS – DUB x 4, easy to take share from AL monopoly with 5 flights a day.
    Both are big bases so no need for AMS to be a new base until they get more slots. Puts pressure on AMS to give them more (and earlier/later) slots to get them to base at AMS.
    They don’t need to launch a glut of new routes. It’s all about 90%+ load factor and higher revenue now.

    • Evert says:

      According to SACN, the slots are indeed requested for 4x DUB and 5x STN daily.

      • Marc Watkins says:

        While I am glad that STN is there (as it is one we suggest) from my experience, often when an airline puts slots into the system they are just ‘ghost’ slots which are there almost as place holders until the real routes are revealed. This may or may not be the case with FR/SACN…but time will tell.

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