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Romania: aviation growth stimulated by LCCs Wizz Air, Blue Air & Ryanair as TAROM shrinks

Romania's air travel market is growing rapidly, with a 20% increase in seat numbers expected in 2016 – the third straight year of double-digit growth. This growth has been inextricably linked with the expansion of tourism to Romania and the development of routes operated by low cost airlines.

The biggest airline in Romania is not Romanian, but has seven aircraft bases in the country. For Wizz Air, also the biggest airline in Central/Eastern Europe, Romania is its second largest market. The ultra-LCC has approximately one third of seat capacity in Romania, more than the combined share of the shrinking flag carrier TAROM and the rapidly growing local LCC Blue Air.

Ryanair – the biggest airline in Europe but number two in Central/Eastern Europe – has Wizz Air in its sights. Ryanair is number four in Romania, but it is now the fastest growing leading airline in the country. It opened its first two Romanian bases at Bucharest and Timișoara in Nov-2016 and plans more, once it negotiates the right airport fees for its business model.

As these three LCCs pursue growth in Romania, the national airline TAROM has been cutting capacity. Further analysis will consider the market position and network development of TAROM and Blue Air in more detail.

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