Irish budget carrier Ryanair is to launch domestic flights within Poland after announcing last week that following its return to Warsaw’s new Modlin Airport, it will introduce links to Gdansk and Wroclaw. The daily services will commence from March next year, just a month before the carrier expands its international network from Modlin with its previously announced twice weekly offerings to Alicante and Thessaloniki.
Ryanair resumed flights from Modlin on September 30, 2013 after temporarily flying to Warsaw’s main Chopin Airport gateway while major works were taking place at the new airport. Wizz Air, which had also served Modlin has instead chosen to remain at Chopin, meaning that Ryanair is currently the sole based carrier at the modern facility, which has been developed to cater for low-cost entities and ease air capacity congestion in the Polish capital.
The airline has now agreed a new ten-year commercial agreement with the management at Warsaw Modlin Airport. Alongside the four new routes for summer 2014 it will also increase frequencies in eight existing markets. Since the low-cost carrier first introduced flights from Warsaw in July 2012 it has grown to carry over 1.3 million passengers per annum to the Polish capital. From summer 2014 it will serve a network of 30 routes.
Upon announcing its expansion into the Polish domestic market, Ryanair has taken the opportunity to knock the existing activities of the country’s flag carrier LOT Polish Airlines suggesting that traffic between Warsaw and Gdansk and Wroclaw is being held back by LOT’s “high fare monopoly”. Ryanair says it will provide more seats, better prices, better punctuality and better customer service than high-fare LOT.
“We have been pleased with the surge in bookings since we announced the return of Ryanair’s flights to Warsaw Modlin. In 2014, Ryanair will operate more than 30 routes to/from Warsaw Modlin and we expect our traffic to grow to 1.5 million passengers to/from Modlin in 2014,” said Michael O’Leary, chief executive officer, Ryanair. “We have no doubt that Warsaw Modlin’s location (just 38kms from the centre of Warsaw) allied to its low-cost base, cheap car parking and easy bus transfers, will make it the airport of choice for passengers flying on Ryanair’s first two Polish domestic routes from Gdansk and Wroclaw to Warsaw.”
The Polish domestic market is still in its early evolution and Ryanair will hope its low-cost model will help stimulate demand. Looking back over the past ten years there has consistently been between 1.3million and 1.5 million available seats in this market, according to schedule data from OAG Analyser. However, in 2012 this jumped to 1.9 million, up 22.6 per cent on the previous year. This year this is expected to grow further to almost 2.1 million, up 7.9 per cent on last year.
The Polish domestic market is currently controlled by LOT and its regional division EuroLOT and who provide air links between ten domestic points in the country. This includes flights from Warsaw Chopin to both of the locations Ryanair plans to serve from Modlin, with Gdansk and Wroclaw both regularly served using 78-seat Bombardier Dash 8-Q400 turboprops.