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Ireland aviation hit hard by COVID. Aer Lingus recovery lags Ryanair

Premium Analysis

An island nation geographically positioned on Europe's periphery, Ireland has long punched above its weight in aviation terms. In 2019, before COVID-19, Ireland was the 16th largest in the aviation market in Europe by total seat capacity (source: CAPA, OAG), significantly above its ranking as Europe's number 26 nation by population (source: worldometers.info).

However, in the week commencing 28-Jun-2021, Ireland ranks as the 23rd biggest aviation market in Europe by seats – a significant slump from pre-COVID.

Ireland has been harder hit by the pandemic because it is dominated by international markets and has very tight foreign travel restrictions. These restrictions will ease, but not disappear, from 19-Jul-2021.

Ireland's two leading airlines, Ryanair and Aer Lingus, account for 76% of the country's seats, but Ryanair has recovered more rapidly. It is now operating 34% of its 2019 seat capacity in Ireland, vs Aer Lingus' 14%. This is well short of Ryanair's group-wide rate, but its low costs, strong liquidity and geographically diversified network should position it more strongly for the recovery.

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