Irish low-cost carrier, Ryanair has become the largest airline operating in Italy in terms of passenger numbers, according to new statistics released by aviation regulator Ente Nazionale per l'Aviazione Civile (ENAC) this week.
The airline transported 26.1 million domestic or international passengers in Italy last year, whereas flag carrier Alitalia carried 23.4 million.
Ryanair was the largest carrier in international markets, carrying 17.2 million passengers, Alitalia was the second largest with 10.5 million, and British LCC easyJet carried 10.4 million.
However, Alitalia continued to dominate in domestic markets, carrying 12.8 million passengers, while Ryanair’s figure was just fewer than nine million while easyJet was just under three million.
Passenger numbers across Italian airports overall grew 4.7 percent to 150 million, with Rome Fiumicino grew its total by 6.5 percent to 38 million, representing a quarter of total Italian passenger numbers.
All 20 of Italy's largest airports grew their volume with the exception of Milan's Bergamo, which – despite being a Ryanair base – saw passenger numbers fall 2.1percent to 8.7 million.
Milan Malpensa's numbers rose 5 percent to 18.7 million, while Milan Linate's stayed flat at 9 million. Venice grew its volume 1 percent to 8.4 million, while Sicily's Catania grew 14.4 percent and Bologna 6.5 percent.
Already Europe’s largest airline by passenger numbers, Ryanair is targeting 50 percent growth by 2019 and has placed orders for 383 Boeing 737-800 aircraft.
The airline whose growth in core European markets like Germany, Poland and the United Kingdom has seen them fly 28 percent more passengers in March compared to the same period last year.
Load factor hit 90 percent, up from 80 percent in March last year, as Ryanair and chief executive Michael O’Leary have been working to improve the passenger experience.
The airline currently has 72 bases, solely in Europe and offers over 1,600 routes across the continent with the focus over the next year to give business travellers many more short-haul flights, specifically on high-frequency routes - many of which are domestic.
Ryanair has built up an extensive network in Germany where the airline has a market share only 4 percent behind Lufthansa and Air Berlin. The airline is expected to increase domestic routes and frequencies across Germany while also increasing domestic opportunities across the UK.
The Irish low-cost carrier has recently increased capacity to Bucharest, and “over-time” plans to develop into the remainder of Romania, while in the medium-term the airline plans to expand into Scandinavia.
Having significantly expanded its network in the last year to serve more major airports across the Continent, Ryanair is further establishing its low-cost offering across Europe. But, where does it rank in individual markets across Europe? Using data from OAG Schedules Analyser we look at the budget carrier's position in its largest European markets based on summer departure capacity in 2015.
Our analysis shows that alongside its 'home' Irish market, Ryanair is the largest carrier by departure capacity in Italy, Poland and Spain. It is the second largest carrier by departure seats within and from Belgium, Greece and Portugal; the third largest carrier in France and the United Kingdom; fourth largest in Germany and fifth largest in the Netherlands.
The chart below highlights Ryanair's departure capacity share in these eleven markets based on summer 2015 schedules.