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Ryanair is Europe's largest airline, the largest low-cost carrier, and one of the world's largest airlines as measured by international passengers carried. Ryanair's largest hub is at London Stansted Airport, with its second largest base at Dublin Airport. The carrier operates a comprehensive network of services across Europe, the Mediterranean and North Africa with a fleet of over 300 B737-800 aircraft.
Location of Ryanair main hub (London Stansted Airport)
Ryanair share price
LCCs will continue to evolve into hybrids of the original core model. CAPA and OAG consider Ryanair fits the LCC profile and it is included in our reporting on this basis. Please note: when reporting for an airline is changed from or to LCC the historical data is not affected and it can lead to a distortion in the current reported data. Contact us if you have any queries.
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Brussels Airport: Ryanair tests itself against Vueling and Gulf airlines offer long haul connections
Brussels Airport's passenger traffic was badly hit in the global financial crisis. Although it recovered in 2011, it was only when two leading LCCs established bases at the airport in 2014 that traffic growth really took off. Ryanair's battle with Vueling at Brussels, also played out in a number of airports across Europe, provides the Irish LCC with a meaningful calibration of its attempts to improve customer service and its appeal to business passengers. It also seems to have stimulated the airport's leading airline Brussels Airlines into its own European route expansion.
Although there has been an increase in traffic to intercontinental destinations over the past decade, this rapid growth of LCCs has further sharpened the airport's already high focus on European traffic. Long haul accounts for fewer than one in five seats at Brussels and is mainly centred on North America and Africa. Destinations in Asia Pacific are reached mainly via other airports (principally Frankfurt and other Lufthansa Group hubs). The growth of Gulf airlines at Brussels provides competition to these hubs in providing long haul connectivity to the Belgian capital.
Ryanair returned to the German domestic market on 3-Sep-2015, after a four year absence. Its Cologne/Bonn-Berlin service, on the largest domestic city pair outside Frankfurt and Munich, is an advance party ahead of an onslaught that will increase its seat capacity in Germany by more than 40% this winter, when it will launch eight new international routes.
This follows a capacity increase in Germany of more than 10% this summer, when five new routes took its German total to 171 for the season (source: OAG). By comparison, Lufthansa has 203 intra-Europe routes (of which 27 are domestic), Germanwings has 276 (25 domestic) and airberlin has 271 (31 domestic).
Ryanair has thrown large numbers of seats into Germany before, most recently in 2013, only to cut capacity again in 2014. In the past, Ryanair's simple charms have not suited the more refined tastes of the German market as much as in other parts of Europe, where it has a higher market share. However, as its recent FY2016 profit guidance upgrade indicates, its charms are now appealing to more people across Europe. Its latest expansion comes just as both the German market and Ryanair have become more mutually compatible than ever before.
Part 1 of this report on Greece reviewed the status of these key industries, which account together for over a fifth of the country's GDP and in many ways represent one of the key areas of hope for Greek employment and economic growth.
The other part of the equation is the ownership of the country's airports, still mostly in government ownership.
On 11-Jul-2015, the European Union delivered a new bailout offer to the Greek government; this included a requirement to sell down a range of government owned infrastructure, including its airports. This offer is still subject to ratification on both sides, but if finally agreed should stimulate considerable interest from investors.
As Part 1 described, passenger growth at several of these airports has been impressive over the past two years, generating some hopes for strong valuations. The Greek air travel market comprised 38.6 million passengers in 2014, an increase of 15% over 2013, as new airline capacity was added, largely by Aegean and Ryanair.
Greece aviation and tourism - Part 1: potentially major forces in supporting economic re-development
Greece has long been a tourism magnet for sun-hungry northern Europeans, quite aside from its remarkable historic attractions. Now, as the country's tottering economy seeks to recover from its near-Grexit experience - and to help stave off the almost inevitable next round of brinkmanship in a few months - aviation and tourism are core to employment and wider economic prospects.
In 2014, travel and tourism was expected to account for one in every five jobs in Greece, as well as accounting for 20% of the country's GDP. Clearly the health of this industry is a vital ingredient in any recovery. Moreover, around 15% of inward investment is in this sector.
The apparent inability of Greece to repay either its debts - or the debts it took on to service its original debts - makes predictions difficult. One substantial fear is that social unrest might upset the stability necessary for essential investment and the tourist trade.
Ryanair's customer refocus delivers 1Q load factor and 25% profit rises; Germany the next big target
Ryanair has continued its impressive growth with a 25% increase in net profit and a 15% increase in passenger numbers in 1Q of its FY2016. This is more evidence of the success of its 'Always Getting Better' customer service initiatives. Profit growth was helped by lower fuel prices, although the benefit was limited by fuel hedging at last year's higher prices driven in part by another jump in load factor. More significantly, a jump in load factor more than offset lower average fares to drive up revenue per seat.
With 35 aircraft deliveries in FY2016 and 50 in FY2017, Ryanair continues to add to its network. The coming winter will see it open bases in Berlin Schoenefeld and Gothenburg. It is also in talks with many other airports across Europe that are interested in the traffic growth that Ryanair can bring. The strength of its network is such that it can happily continue to serve former bases by serving them from other airports, as demonstrated by its recent decision to close its Copenhagen base.
Aer Lingus' FY2016 outlook strong as IAG's bid nears acceptance; new era to begin for the Irish flag
Aer Lingus suffered a slight fall in its 2Q2015 operating profit. Healthy revenue growth, driven by strong trading on the long-haul network more than offsetting a dip in short-haul revenue, was not enough to counterbalance cost increases. Currency movements inflated both revenue and cost, but the net impact was detrimental to the result.
Aer Lingus expects these currency effects to be less in 2H and says it is satisfied with forward bookings. It is prevented by stock exchange rules from issuing FY2015 profit guidance while under offer from IAG, but it says that it expects an improved operating performance for 3Q and for the full year.
Meanwhile, the IAG offer looks very close to being accepted by Aer Lingus. This could be its last set of results as an independent airline. As it continues to battle powerful local rival Ryanair, Aer Lingus can look forward to a new phase of its history as part of Europe's strongest legacy airline group.