Irish budget carrier, Ryanair, continues to go on the offensive against its low-fare rival, Wizz Air, by expanding its activities in Eastern Europe. The airline will open a base at Timisoara Airport from November 2016, using a single based aircraft to deliver seven new routes, including direct services to six international markets in four European countries.
Ryanair has more than quadrupled its capacity offering from Central and Eastern Europe over the past ten years with an average annual rise of 38.9 per cent between 2006 and 2015, according to schedule data from OAG. This has been to combat the emergence of Wizz Air, which over the same period has established itself as the largest carrier in these emerging markets.
It first made its debut in Romania in April 2008 when it initially introduced flights to Arad and Constanta from its bases in Italy. It later added flights from Targu Mures, but currently only offers services from the nation’s capital, Bucharest, linking Henri Coandă International Airport with Brussels Charleroi in Belgium; Bergamo, Bologna, Milan and Rome in Italy; Dublin in the Republic of Ireland; Madrid in Spain and London in the United Kingdom.
Timișoara is the main social, economic and cultural centre in western Romania and is the third largest city in the country by population. It is considered the informal capital city of the historical region of Banat.
Ryanair will station a single Boeing 737-800 at Timisoara Airport to introduce a twice daily domestic link to Bucharest and international connections to Bergamo (five times weekly), Berlin (twice weekly), Brussels Charleroi (three times weekly), Dusseldorf Weeze (twice weekly), Frankfurt Hahn (twice weekly) and London Stansted (daily). This initial schedule will comprise 35 weekly flights which are expected to generate an estimated 575,000 passengers per annum.
"The presence of an airline such as Ryanair at Timisoara Airport and introduction of these seven new routes is a good opportunity for people in the West Region of Romania and for the airport itself. It will have a positive impact on the attractiveness of the region and traffic growth at the airport," said Daniel Stamatovici, Commercial Director, Timisoara Airport.
The facility, Traian Vuia International Airport, named after a Romanian flight pioneer and a Timis County native, is already a base for Wizz Air, while Lufthansa Regional provides an important link to its Munich hub, providing one-stop connectivity options for business and leisure travellers.
According to current schedules, Ryanair will face head-to-head competition from Wizz Air on the Bergamo, Brussels Charleroi and Frankfurt Hahn routes and indirectly to London where Wizz serves Luton Airport. Ryanair will also compete directly with Romanian national carrier, TAROM in the Timisoara – Bucharest market.
“Our double daily Timisoara-Bucharest service will be ideal for both business and leisure customers and we look forward to growing routes, traffic, jobs and tourism in Romania,” said David O'Brien, Chief Commercial Officer, Ryanair.
Traian Vuia International Airport almost doubled in size between 2005 and 2011, passing the one million annual passenger milestone in 2010, buoyed by the arrival of Wizz Air at the facility in 2008. However, it has seen traffic decline by a third since then due to the collapse of local carrier Carpatair, but was expected to return to growth in 2015 when year-on-year capacity was up 16.6 per cent.