Ryanair to Open Two Additional Greek Bases in Summer 2014

Irish budget carrier, Ryanair, has announced a major growth of its activities in the Greek market as it attempts to take advantage of the merger of Aegean Airlines and Olympic Air to expand its traffic in the country.  The now ‘friendly’ low-cost carrier will open new bases at Athens International Airport and Thessaloniki’s Macedonia International Airport and launch nine additional domestic and international routes from April 2014.

Ryanair made its debut in the Greek market in May 2010 when it began flights from Frankfurt Hahn to Kos and Volos; from Milan Bergamo to Rhodes and Volos and from Pisa to Rhodes but has subsequently significantly grown its network in the country, establishing its first base in the country at Chania International Airport on the island of Crete. 

“Only Ryanair, with its 175 new aircraft order, can deliver the capacity, new markets and low costs demanded by Greek consumers and visitors, and looks forward to working with Athens Airport to unlock the vast potential currently suppressed by high access air costs.”

David O’Brien
Director of Commercial, Ryanair

The new base in the capital Athens will be served by two Boeing 737-800s which will facilitate the launch of new domestic services to Chania, Rhodes and Thessaloniki and international flights to London Stansted, Milan Bergamo and Paphos.  In total Ryanair will offer 154 additional weekly flights from Athens International Airport, handling an estimated 1.2 million new passenger per annum at the facility.

“Only Ryanair, with its 175 new aircraft order, can deliver the capacity, new markets and low costs demanded by Greek consumers and visitors, and looks forward to working with Athens Airport to unlock the vast potential currently suppressed by high access air costs,” said David O’Brien, director of commercial, Ryanair.

The upgrade of Thessaloniki from a standard network point to an official base will support the addition of three new routes – the above mentioned flight to Athens and new international links to Pisa and Warsaw Modlin.  Ryanair will station a single 737-800 at the airport and alongside its existing schedules will offer up to 212 weekly flights across 16 routes.

After making its debut in Greece in mid 2010, Ryanair has expanded its operations in each of the subsequent years.  In 2011, annual international capacity from the country rose 694.3 per cent to over 475,000 seats, with subsequent rises of 90.5 per cent in 2012 and then 19.4 per cent in 2013, taking annual international seat capacity above the one million mark.  Ryanair only made its debut in the domestic market in April last year and currently only serves the Chania – Thessaloniki market so its planned summer 2014 growth will represent a significant development in this market.

The Ryanair growth strategy is a direct response to the changing structure of the Greek aviation market as the activities of Olympic Air are integrated into Aegean Airlines.  The Greek flag carrier has responded quickly to the news of increased competition from the budget carrier and said it supports the reasons behind the consolidation of Greece’s two largest air carriers and confirms the function of a fully competitive market in the country.

“This is exactly the reason for which the joining of powers between the two Greek carriers, Aegean Airlines and Olympic Air, was indispensable so as for economies of scale to be created allowing the effective operation and growth of a Greek carrier that will worthily represent our country to this common European market,” it said in a statement.

“Moreover, it is highly positive, that our country’s stabilisation and the significant strengthening of the tourist flow now render Greece attractive for the operation of foreign carriers.  Today, following the completion of this union, we hold the size needed for being competitive and grow more,” it added.

Ryanair continues to tweak its network as it makes final adjustments to its summer 2014 schedule and takes advantage of changing conditions across the European and North African landscape.  It has already boosted its operations across following the removal of its aviation tax this spring and further growth is being discussed.  This capacity is being made available by cutting some of its less popular European routes and likely reduction in operations in Morocco after the government of Morocco announced plans to levy a tax on all flights out of the country from April 1, 2014.

Alongside its growth in Ireland, Ryanair has this week announced the introduction of four additional routes from Manchester and increased frequencies on five existing routes.  The airline will boost its Manchester network to 36 destinations from March 2014 with new links to Barcelona, Bologna, Fuerteventura and Gran Canaria and more flights to Dublin, Ibiza, Lanzarote, Malaga and Tenerife.  According to data from OAG Schedules Analyser, Ryanair had a 10.9 per cent share of the seat capacity at Manchester in 2013, up 1.0 percentage points on the previous year as it boosted its own offering by 19.3 per cent.