Ryanair to Armenia. CIS-to-W Europe underserved by LCCs

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Reports that Ryanair is considering services to Armenia have focused attention on that country's existing aviation market and the potential for more low cost routes between Western Europe and the nations of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Armenia, with a population of three million, is one of Eastern Europe's smaller markets. Annual seat capacity has been volatile in recent years, growing strongly in 2017 and 2018, but is set to fall this summer, according to OAG data. Russia and Russian airlines dominate Armenia's schedule. LCC share is small, but growing, and includes no routes to/from Western Europe.

The CIS nations in general are underserved by LCCs to/from Western Europe, but Moldova, with a similar population to Armenia's, has 12 such routes. Armenia would be only Ryanair's second CIS market after Ukraine. Wizz Air operates to Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova from Western Europe, and Vueling operates to Belarus and Russia (also served by Pobeda from Western Europe).

Outside the CIS, Eastern Europe includes some similarly sized countries with a much higher penetration of LCC links with Western Europe, including Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania and FYR Macedonia.

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