Irish budget carrier Ryanair is to open a base at Milan Malpensa Airport in December this year and a new base at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport is also set to follow, although plans to station aircraft in the French capital, Paris is understood to have been delayed, at least in the short-term. The growth continues the airline’s revised business strategy to serve more major city centre airports across Europe.
Ryanair will initially position a single Boeing 737-800 at Milan Malpensa from December 1, 2015, its 15th base in Italy. The new resource will enable the carrier to introduce a twice daily link to London Stansted and daily operation to Comiso as well as a four times weekly service to Bucharest and three times weekly offering to Seville during the winter 2015/2016 schedule. It says the investment will deliver 450,000 customers per annum and support 450 ‘on-site’ jobs at Milan Malpensa Airport.
The low-cost carrier has taken advantage of the recent struggles of Italy’s national carrier, Alitalia, to develop a strong presence in the country. Between 2005 and 2014 it increased its capacity (domestic and international departures from Italy) by an average annual rate of 28.8 per cent and now offers over 20 million seats within and from Italy. Based on already published schedules capacity will grow 6.8 per cent in 2015.
“As Italy's No 1 airline, we are pleased to add another key primary airport to what is already Europe's largest route network, as we continue to connect Italy with Europe's major centres of business,” said David O'Brien, chief commercial officer, Ryanair.
Ryanair currently serves the Milan market via its flights to Bergamo’s Il Caravaggio International Airport, a popular low-cost alternative for Italy’s second city due to its location just 45 kilometres from the city. Ryanair already serves London Stansted and Seville from the facility and will add flights to Bucharest in October 2015, but has no immediate plans to scale-back activities following its Milan Malpensa launch.
“We will continue to operate and grow at Milan Bergamo Airport and as demonstrated by the success of our dual airport strategies in Brussels, Glasgow and Rome, Ryanair will remain the ideal choice for both business and leisure customers,” confirmed O’Brien.
Milan is home to an estimated population of 1.3 million inhabitants, while its wider urban area of 5.26 million is ranked as the fifth largest in the European Union. The city is the main industrial, commercial and financial centre of Italy, while its many cultural institutions and landmarks generate significant inbound tourism flows.
Our analysis of OAG Schedules Analyser data shows how Ryanair has emerged as the prominent operator in the Italian market. It overtook Alitalia to become the largest international carrier in the country (by departure seats) in 2008 and in 2014 held an 18.5 per cent share of departure capacity. In the domestic skies it is the second largest operator by capacity but has grown its marketshare from just 1.3 per cent in 2005 to 28.7 per cent last year – this will rise to 31.3 per cent in 2015, based on already published schedules.
Meanwhile, Ryanair has also launched its expanded London summer 2016 schedule which includes four new routes to Milan Malpensa, Sofia, Verona and Vilnius and extra flights on 20 existing routes. Together its operations from three airports – Gatwick, Luton and Stansted - will encompass over 150 routes and deliver 22.8 million customers per annum.
At its largest London base at Stansted Airport, where 37 737-800s are stationed, Ryanair will offer 129 summer routes next year. Alongside the new link to Milan Malpensa the carrier will introduce flights to Sofia and Verona and will up capacity on 18 existing routes to offer around 1,200 weekly flights, up five per cent on this summer.
At Luton (a five aircraft base) a new route to the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, will be introduced and more frequencies added to Copenhagen as overall weekly capacity is boosted to 123 weekly services across 18 routes, a 13 per cent growth versus this year. Meanwhile, at Gatwick the summer schedule will see extra flights to Dublin, one of five destinations served from the airport with a total of 62 weekly flights, a 12 per cent growth on this year.