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Irish budget carrier Ryanair has confirmed it will open an operational base at MR Štefánik Airport in Bratislava in March 2015 as it continues to grow its activities between Europe’s capital cities. The airline will station two Boeing 737-800s at the Slovakian facility to operate across a network of 16 routes, including a brand new connection to the Spanish capital, Madrid.
Ryanair has been serving MR Štefánik Airport for almost ten years and is now firmly established as the largest scheduled operator with a 79.1 per cent share of departures and 93.2 share of capacity this month, according to OAG Schedules Analyser. It says its investment of $200 million in the new base will deliver almost one million customers per annum and will help reverse a recent decline in passenger numbers at the airport.
The airline’s arrival in the Slovakian capital in October 2005 helped MR Štefánik grow its traffic beyond one million annual passengers for the first time in 2005 and subsequent growth saw the two million milestone passed in 2007 and 2008. However, the collapse of local low-cost carrier SkyEurope Airlines and Lufthansa’s closure of its flights to Bratislava from Munich in January 2009 and the loss of its connection passenger traffic flows has meant passenger numbers have been on the decline for the last five consecutive years.
Ryanair currently offers a mixed schedule of year-round and seasonal flights from Bratislava. Its year-round routes comprise Alghero, Bergamo, Birmingham, Brussels Charleroi, Dublin, Girona, Liverpool, London Luton, London Stansted and Rome Ciampino, while summer only flights operate to Edinburgh, Malaga, Palma de Mallorca, Paris Beauvais and Trapani. The new Madrid route will commence from March 30, 2015 and will be flown on a three times weekly basis.
Through its summer 2015 schedule, Ryanair will offer 60 weekly flights from Bratislava with its core routes to London Stansted and Dublin operating twice daily and daily, respectively. All its other markets are served with between two and four weekly frequencies.
In our analysis, below, we look at Ryanair’s share of the annual departure capacity from Bratislava’s MR Štefánik Airport over its almost ten years of operation. Between its launch in late 2005 and 2012 the carrier boosted its share of available seats from the Slovakian capital to 83.1 per cent. Although at times each year its capacity share may exceed the 90 per cent level, its overall share in 2013 and 2014 has declined to 67.6 per cent last year and 59.9 per cent this year following the arrival of new operators such as Correndon Airlines, flydubai, Tunisair and most notably Travel Service Slovakia.