Irish budget carrier Ryanair is to open a first aircraft base in the Czech Republic. The low-fare operator will station two Boeing 737-800s at Václav Havel Airport in Prague from this winter, growing its network in the capital city to 40 weekly flights across five routes.
Ryanair first introduced flights into Prague in November 2007 but suspended flights in October 2010 . It resumed operations in April 2014 and currently offers at least daily flights from Brussels Charleroi, Dublin and London Stansted. The launch of the base will support the introduction of new daily flights to Bergamo and Rome in Italy and will boost annual capacity by around 100,000 to 625,000 seats.
“This growth is an integral part of our continued expansion plans for both the Czech Republic and Eastern Europe, as we connect Prague with Europe’s key centres of business with high frequency business-friendly services,” said Kenny Jacobs, chief marketing officer, Ryanair.
Over the eight plus years since Ryanair first served the Prague market it has offered more than 1.6 million seats to and from the city, also previously serving markets such as Birmingham, Bremen, East Midlands, Frankfurt and Stockholm.
Despite strong competition from legacy and low-cost operators, the base announcement could provide a platform for the airline to further grow its activities in the Czech Republic. “We are pleased that Ryanair keeps expanding its aviation business at Václav Havel Airport,” said Jiří Vyskoč, aviation business director, Prague Airport.
“With nearly half a million passengers transported a year, the carrier ranks among the largest top five airlines in Prague. The plan to launch two new routes confirms the continued interest of foreign tourists in trips to Prague,” he added.
Since returning to the airport in 2014, Ryanair has grown its share of capacity at Václav Havel Airport from just 1.5 percent in 2014 to 5.0 percent this year, based on published schedules from intelligence provider, OAG, for the calendar year. It is the fifth largest operator by capacity in Prague after flag carrier Czech Airlines, Travel Service Airlines, easyJet and Lufthansa.
Elsewhere, Ryanair is to introduce its first flights into Serbia with the launch of flights to Niš Constantine the Great Airport, the largest air gateway into the country outside of its capital city, Belgrade. The airline will offer a twice weekly link from Berlin Schönefeld from September 4, 2016 carrying an estimated 30,000 annual passengers on the route. Serbia will be Ryanair’s 32nd country market and further highlights its continued expansion into Central and Eastern Europe during 2016.