Ryanair leads the way between the UK and Ireland; London – Dublin city pair analysed
The UK to Ireland is one of the busiest country markets in the world. The seat capacity between the two has grown by 12% over the past 12 months, with 100,000 more one-way seats available between the two since 2011. This represents an increase over the past six years of 16%, showcasing the strong growth that has happened in just the past year. With this in mind, anna.aero thought it to be a good idea to look further into how the country pair has shaped up during the past few years, especially considering the market has lost seven carriers in the past six years.
Ryanair still in charge but British Airways and Aer Lingus grow quicker
After recording a growth in seat capacity between the UK and Ireland of just under 13%, ULCC Ryanair is still the number one carrier in the market. In total, the airline operates 24 routes between the two nations, with its number one being London Stansted – Dublin, a sector which commands 13% of the airline’s overall capacity between the UK and Ireland. Although Ryanair has once again maintained its leading position in the market, British Airways has recorded the biggest growth at 17% on its services between London Heathrow and Dublin, the largest airport pair in the market. The other carrier to grow more than Ryanair was Aer Lingus at just over 13%, with its Aer Lingus Regional division opening services to East Midlands, Doncaster Sheffield, and Newquay from Dublin, while it also took over the Public Service Obligation (PSO) route between Donegal and Glasgow. The growth of Aer Lingus and its further development of its Dublin hub as a pre-clearance facility for UK passengers to the US may also strengthen now that it is part of the IAG Group, the same company that runs British Airways. It was announced this week that British Airways flight codes will appear on many of the Irish carrier’s regional UK services from the Irish capital.
Elsewhere in the market…
Although in October CityJet commenced a thrice-daily service between Cork and London City, the airline is reporting a decline in capacity of 14%, while Flybe recorded a growth of 6.5%. A new entrant to the market for W15/16 is VLM Airlines, which commenced services from Waterford to London Luton and Birmingham in April. However its impact has not affected the capacity control of existing carriers, with the regional airline only commanding 0.4% of seats within the market. VLM replaced Flybe on services between Waterford and the UK’s second city after it closed operations to the Irish airport in W14/15.
Since 2011, seven carriers have left the UK-Ireland market. Air France left the market after CityJet became its own independent operation away from the SkyTeam carrier, meanwhile the bmi name left the market due to its consolidation into British Airways. Jet2.com ended services between Cork and Newcastle in 2014, while bmibaby left the market in 2012 due to its closure. Air Southwest left the year previous due to the same reason. Aer Arann left the market in the same year as bmibaby when it was rebranded as Aer Lingus Regional, with its flights changing to the Irish national carrier’s EI flight code. Finally Manx2 (now Citywing) left the market in 2011.
Gatwick – Dublin passes one million; Southend services end; City overtakes Luton
2015 was a very interesting year for the London – Dublin city pair, witnessing a total of nearly 4.44 million passengers fly between the UK and Irish capitals. The result means that the city pair becomes Europe’s busiest route, and second biggest in the world behind Hong Kong-Taipei which welcomed five million passengers last year according to numerous sources. A breakdown of the routes between London airports and Dublin is as follows: Heathrow (1.68 million); Gatwick (1.08); Stansted (0.88); City (0.45); and Luton (0.34). Services between Dublin and London Southend ended in April 2015, nonetheless the route (operated by Stobart Air) carried just over 4,000 passengers during the first four months of last year before its closure.
Looking at the city pair for last year, the most significant change was the development of connections to City (overtaking Luton to become the fourth most popular London airport), a route which last year averaged a monthly increase in traffic of 119%. This was helped by Flybe, which at the start of W14/15 introduced a service between the two airports. However, Flybe closed this route in May of last year due to increased competition from British Airways and CityJet. Elsewhere, Heathrow’s average monthly growth in passengers to Dublin was 2%, Gatwick 9%, Stansted 9%, Luton 4%, and before its closure Southend averaged -25%.
Ryanair controls three of the four monopoly routes; Dublin – Liverpool fastest growing
Four of the top 13 routes between the UK and Ireland (highlighted in light green) are monopoly routes, with only the service between Cork and Heathrow not being operated by Ryanair. The fastest growing route of the top 13 between the two nations is the short 215-kilometre sector between Dublin and Liverpool. Since Aer Lingus’ inauguration onto the once Ryanair dominated route, the seat capacity between the two cities has grown by 52%, raising the route from being the 11th biggest last winter to seventh this year. In regards to routes which have witnessed no new entrants, the biggest growth has been seen between Dublin and Birmingham, with seat capacity between the Irish capital and the UK’s second city up 26%, while the link from Dublin to Manchester was the second best performing route at +25%. Of the top 13 routes, the only one to report a decline in capacity is the link between Dublin and London City, a result of Flybe pulling the sector.
Still to come in 2016
Flybe will be increasing its offering for the start of S16 when it recommences services from Birmingham and Edinburgh to Knock, both pencilled in by the regional airline to be launching on 28 March. Currently the carrier operates to the Irish facility from Manchester. Aer Lingus Regional has March as the intended start date to launch services from Cork to Leeds Bradford and Southampton. The carrier will also resume services between Shannon and Edinburgh during the same month. The airline, which is operated by Stobart Air, is also expected to in the future operate services to Dublin from Carlisle Airport, which the transport group also owns. The group is currently constructing terminal facilities at the UK airport, with the hope for flights to be running later in the year.