Irish budget carrier Ryanair will be the first carrier to introduce scheduled operations at the recently opened Vincenzo Magliocco Airport, which serves the municipality of Comiso and the province of Ragusa on the Italian island of Sicily. The low-cost carrier will introduce direct flights from Brussels Charleroi, London Stansted and Rome Ciampino from August 2013 with ten weekly rotations in total.
The former military aerodrome was transferred to civilian operation during the second half of the 2000s and received its first civilian flight on April 30, 2007. However, it was not officially opened to commercial and general aviation movements until May 30, 2013 after facilities were upgraded for scheduled passenger operations, including a new 2,500m runway.
Located in the south of the island, the new facility is expected to develop as an alternative to the existing airports across Sicily, including Palermo in the north, Catania in the east and Trapani in the west, the latter being Ryanair’s main gateway. The carrier will launch flights to Comiso on August 7, 2013 with a six times weekly domestic link from Rome Ciampino, before adding twice weekly international services from Brussels Charleroi on September 17, 2013 and London Stansted on September 18, 2013.
This expansion marks an expansion of the Ryanair network to 22 airports across Italy. According to the carrier’s Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Michael Cawley, the new flights will generate 150,000 passengers per calendar year and will sustain 150 jobs at the airport. Alongside Ryanair, airport executive are looking to attract other budget carriers to Comiso alongside charter operators.
The markets of Brussels, London and Rome are already well served from Sicily, but Ryanair believes that Comiso provides it with an opportunity to strengthen its position in the market while improving its cost base. In 2012 an estimated 136,000 bi-directional O&D passengers flew between Sicily and Brussels, 463,000 between Sicily and London and 2.11 million between Sicily and Rome with Ryanair holding 57.2 per cent, 25.9 per cent and 5.5 per cent shares of these respective markets.
Ryanair already flies to Brussels Charleroi and Rome Ciampino from Trapani and serves the London market via Luton from the airport. At the same facility, Alitalia offers a seasonal flight to Rome Fiumicino, a market also served by Darwin Airline. At Palermo, links to Rome Fiumicino are provided by Alitalia, Blue Panorama Airlines and easyJet, while the UK carrier also serves the London market via Gatwick Airport. SN Brussels Airlines (March to September) and Jetairfly (May to September) also provide seasonal flights to Brussels. Meanwhile, at Catania, Brussels Airlines and Jetairfly serve Brussels; Air Italy, Alitalia, Blue Panorama Airlines and Meridianafly serve Rome Fiumicino; and British Airways, easyJet and Thomson Airways serve London Gatwick.