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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. Ryanair Sun is the proposed charter business unit of Ryanair Plc, headquartered at Warsaw.
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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Georgia’s three international airports have benefitted from a liberal aviation policy, which has led to a period of rapid traffic growth. As highlighted in the first half of this report, total passenger traffic in Georgia increased by 26% in 2016 and is projected to grow by another 40% in 2017.
Passenger traffic at Georgia’s main gateway, Tbilisi International Airport, increased by 22% in 2016. Tbilisi traffic has grown from only 700,000 in 2009 to 2.3 million in 2016. The airport has been operated by Turkey’s TAV since 2007.
Georgia’s other two international airports, at Batumi and Kutaisi, grew even faster in 2016. Batumi also has been operated by TAV since 2007, while Kutaisi has been government owned since it opened in 2012.
Kutaisi is marketed as a low cost airport – the first of its kind in former Soviet republics – and has experienced an accelerated rate of growth since the opening of a base by Wizz Air in Sep-2016. Georgia’s investment in Kutaisi, and decision to pursue an LCC model for the new airport, represent another example of a liberal and innovative approach in a region dominated by legacy thinking.
LOT Polish Airlines: new LA service highlights value of long haul; short haul heat from LCCs remains
On 3-Apr-2017 LOT launched its longest direct service, between Warsaw and Los Angeles, deploying Boeing 787-8 aircraft. Los Angeles is LOT’s fourth North American destination and its first regular service to any US west coast destination. It is also the only direct flight anywhere between Central Europe and the US west coast. Warsaw-Newark and Krakow-Chicago route launches will follow later in summer 2017.
As it is with its other long haul routes, which also include three Asian destinations, LOT is aiming the new LA service not only at O&D traffic from Warsaw, but also squarely at passengers travelling to Southern California from across the Central European region. LOT is the only significant long haul operator in the region and the only one serving Los Angeles. Its Warsaw Chopin hub is the only airport between Vienna and Moscow with more than 1,000 long haul flights per year.
On short/medium haul, competition from LCCs Ryanair and Wizz Air is intense. Both have more seat capacity in Poland than LOT, whose new unbundled fare structure reflects the need to adopt some of their tactics. Long haul, where there is far less competition for LOT, is set to remain its strategic growth priority.
Airline seat growth from Europe in summer 2017 is set to stay at almost 6% for the third successive summer, according to data from OAG. This rate had not previously been reached since 2010, although this will be the fifth straight summer of growth ahead of its 10 year average rate. The summer 2017 season started on 26-Mar-2017 and, although always subject to further change, the data give a fairly clear picture.
Seat capacity on routes from Europe to Africa will grow the fastest, as the region recovers from a terrorism related drop in demand in North Africa. There will also be above trend growth in almost every other region from Europe (including intra Europe). The only exception is Europe-Middle East, where the newly cautious Gulf airlines' growth is slowing this summer.
On the North Atlantic, always important for the profitability of Europe's leading legacy airlines, growth will be faster than its 10 year trend, but it will at least be a little slower than in the past summer. The loss of market share from the immunised North Atlantic JVs to newer and smaller competitors, including LCCs, is set to continue. As ever, the OAG capacity data provide a window into the changing structure of the airline markets from Europe.
In 2017 the Aegean Airlines Group will make its first cut in seat capacity and fleet numbers since 2012. This follows three years of rapid expansion by the group since its Olympic Air acquisition in 2013. Olympic's all turboprop fleet focuses on the domestic market but also helps to feed Aegean's international network, particularly through its Athens hub. Cuts will focus on the domestic market.
Aegean will also make an important longer term fleet decision in 2017, or early 2018. The majority of its aircraft leases will need to be replaced between 2019 and 2023, and it is weighing the options. Aegean currently operates Airbus narrowbodies, but will consider the Boeing 737MAX in addition to the A320neo family.
Aegean's last capacity cut was in 2012, the end of a four year period of losses when Greece was in a deep multi year recession. Since then it has made healthy profits, but while profitable its operating margin fell in 2016 for the second successive year. Greece has experienced rapid capacity growth from LCCs, led by Ryanair. A decline in Aegean's unit revenue over three years has now prompted a pause for what its Executive Vice Chairman has called "consolidation and readjustment".
The Lufthansa Group's juggling act continues to impress with the sheer number of balls that it has sought to keep in the air over the past year.
Striving for labour productivity improvements in its mainline operations, while also attempting to minimise industrial unrest; expanding its Eurowings low cost brand through organic growth, while also integrating the acquisition of Brussels Airlines and the wet lease of aircraft from airberlin; facing the growing threat of Ryanair's entry into its biggest hub at Frankfurt, while seeking to maintain a good relationship with the airport's owner Fraport; keeping positive momentum in its financial performance after earning more than its cost of capital in 2014-2016, while the global cycle may have reached a peak.
In the same week as reporting solid, if unspectacular, financial results for 2016, Lufthansa has achieved a break through agreement with its pilots over pay and conditions. As a strategic tool, Eurowings helped it to reach this agreement, but the LCC subsidiary now needs to become financially successful.
Later in Mar-2017, Ryanair will start its first four Frankfurt routes, to which it will add 20 more next winter. Eurowings will need to be part of Lufthansa's response to this growing competitive threat.
Ukraine: traffic recovery prompts Ryanair to join Wizz Air in LCC growth. Ukraine Int'l also expands
Two announcements by leading LCCs in quick succession may mark a significant development in Ukraine's aviation market. One came on 13-Mar-2016 from Wizz Air, the largest low cost airline in Eastern/Central Europe; the other on 15-Mar-2016 from Ryanair, the largest LCC (and largest airline) in all Europe.
Both expect opportunity in Ukraine's very low levels of air travel and low LCC seat share. Wizz Air, already Ukraine's leading low cost airline, will add four more new routes in summer 2017, to the four previously announced. Ryanair will enter Ukraine with 11 routes, adding competitive tension to the emerging low fares market there. The battle between the two for supremacy in Eastern/Central Europe opens up a new front.
Meanwhile, Ukraine's air traffic levels are enjoying a recovery from the slump of 2014 and 2015 caused by major geopolitical disruption and a severe recession. Passenger numbers jumped 21% in 2016.
The country's flag carrier and biggest airline, Ukraine International Airlines, has taken part in the traffic growth, but will need to ensure it can do this profitably after a period of losses. Risks remain, but the conditions are in place for further growth in Ukraine's air traffic.