Ryanair Moves into Vatry

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Richard Maslen

Richard Maslen,
Editor, Routesonline

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Ryanair Moves into Vatry

Ryanair will begin operations from Vatry Airport, the fourth Parisian gateway, which is located 140km east of Paris. It has traditionally been used as a freight airport, however has more recently been seeking to attract scheduled carriers. Ryanair will begin services there from the end of June to Oslo Rygge and Stockholm Skavsta, the first scheduled services at Vatry. Routes News examines Vatry's position and how it will compete with the three other main airports in Paris.

The Current Airport Landscape in Paris

The three major airports in Paris are Charles de Gaulle, Orly, and Beauvais. The table below illustrates the weekly flights schedules at these three airports:

Airport

Number of Airlines

Weekly Flights

Destinations

Charles de Gaulle (CDG)

106

4591

239

Orly (ORY)

32

2314

124

Beavais (BVA)

3

208

36

Source: Flightbase June 14-20, 2010

Charles de Gaulle is the main Paris gateway, with the network carriers focusing their operations there, with connectivity and alliance partnerships and reliable and efficient transport links to the centre of Paris.

Likewise while Orly may not having the same connectivity, it has good transport links into central Paris, which has allowed carriers struggling for slots at CDG to serve a main Paris airport. Orly's charges are lower than at CDG and the airport has developed a strong mix of network, regional, low-cost and charter traffic.

In terms of services outside of the EU, Orly serves 46 destinations, compared with 117 at CDG. Of the 46 non-EU destinations served from Orly, 32 of these are to African points with carrier such as Jet4you, Aigle Azur and Royal Air Maroc.

Network carriers do not serve Paris Beauvais and consequently will be unlikely to serve Vatry. The main French charter carriers, such as XL Airways France and Corsairfly, focus on CDG and ORY as their tour operators, such as Nouvelles Frontieres, see Beauvais as a risk and unsuitable for the short-haul charter market.

A Low-cost Competitor - Paris Beauvais

Paris Beauvais is currently has the role of a low-cost airport, with its three incumbents being Blue Air (to Bucharest), Wizz Air (operates 10 destinations) and Ryanair (operates 25 destinations).

Low-cost carriers have left Beauvais in recent years, preferring to centre their operations in either CDG or ORY. Norwegian pulled off the Oslo route and Cimber Sterling (Sterling at the time) discontinued its Copenhagen service in favour of the main Paris airports. Both carriers cited the lack of connectivity to the centre of Paris as the main problem, with travel times of over 90 minutes not uncommon. Other low-cost airlines such as Norwegian and easyJet are moving away from their traditional low-cost routes and positioning themselves to attract business passengers with a focus on on-time performance, plus availability through GDS systems.

Beauvais is still considered by some as too far from the market to work. The three carriers serving the airport remain loyal to their low-cost philosophies.

Interestingly, Paris Beauvais is Ryanair's largest non-based operation and the Irish airline has not based aircraft at BVA possibly due to ILS restrictions, which represents an obstacle for it to significantly grow its operations there.

With the carrier not serving Charles de Gaulle or Orly, could Vatry be the solution to Ryanair expansion plans?

What is Vatry's Role in Paris?

Given its lack of proximity to central Paris, Vatry is sure to face the same problems and will struggle to attract any network carriers who wish to serve the central market and have connectivity with other carriers. For Vatry the aim will be to serve the low-cost, charter and bizjet markets to complement its freight activity. It will, however, struggle for bizjet traffic given that Le Bourget is a dedicated bizjet facility on the outskirts of Paris.

Vatry will focus on the low-cost sector, but will not be able to attract carriers such as Norwegian, easyJet, Moreover its focus will be competing with Beauvais to potentially pull capacity away to Vatry.

With ILS III at Beauvais and a 3,850m runway that can handle widebody aircraft, Vatry is set up for increased passenger throughput. Much will depend on links to the centre of Paris. The future for Vatry could be with a based Ryanair presence - in this scenario, Ryanair would be unlikely to serve Beauvais and Vatry. Other targets could include Smartwings from Prague, or some of the North African traffic that is being served at Orly, such as Jet4you that could be tempted away by incentives and unrestricted slots. Air Berlin could also be a target, given its decision to operate into Ciudad Real in Madrid, which is equally as far from Spain's capital as Vatry is from France's.

It is, however, likely that Vatry will become a Ryanair airport, with ILS category III meaning unrestricted operations for the LCC.

Vatry has also positioned itself as being the airport that is most accessible to EuroDisney and will hope to pull in charter and scheduled traffic to serve the theme park.

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