Ryanair targets underserved Armenia - Western Europe market

Armenia currently has no low-cost routes to Western Europe, but that is about to change following Ryanair’s decision to enter the former Soviet republic’s market. Routesonline takes a look at Armenia's growing aviation sector.

Low-cost airline Ryanair is entering the Armenian market for the first time, initially offering four routes to destinations in Western Europe.

The carrier will launch two new routes from Yerevan, the country’s capital, to Milan Bergamo and Rome Ciampino starting on 14 January 2020.

A further two routes, from Yerevan to Berlin Schönefeld and from the north-western Armenian city of Gyumri to Memmingen, will begin during the summer 2020 season. All four routes will be served two times per week using Boeing 737-800 aircraft.

Ryanair’s chief commercial officer David O’Brien said: “These four new routes will further promote Armenian tourism, and will deliver over 130,000 customers annually to/from two European countries to one of Europe’s fastest-growing tourism destinations.

“We look forward to developing new Armenian traffic growth, new routes, and jobs in the coming years.”

Armenia, which will become the 40th country in Ryanair’s network, is a landlocked nation surrounded by Turkey to the west, Georgia to the north, and Azerbaijan to the east. With a population of three million, the country’s aviation market has been growing steadily in recent years.

Data from OAG Schedules Analyser shows the number of two-way seats is set to be 3.9 million this year, up by 6.0 percent compared with the previous 12 months. The expected growth this year follows year-on-year rises of 16.0 percent in 2018 and 23.6 percent in 2017.

Armenia’s total two-way capacity (2010-19):

The country’s traffic is dominated by Eastern and Central Europe, which accounts for 84.2 percent of weekly seat capacity (w/c 14 October 2019). The Middle East market accounts for 8.9 percent and Western Europe 4.9 percent. North East Asia has 1.2 percent of seats, North Africa has 0.4 percent and Central Asia has 0.3 percent.

By country, Russia accounts for 60.9 percent of departure seats, followed by Ukraine with 6.0 percent. The top five largest markets by seat capacity is completed by United Arab Emirates (5.6 percent), Iran (5.1 percent) and Austria (3.1 percent).

In terms of routes, the largest amount of weekly capacity is available between Yerevan and Moscow Sheremetyevo (21,600 seats), with Yerevan - Moscow Domodedovo in second position (12,240 seats). The third biggest route links Yerevan and Kiev Borispol (4,196 seats).

Ryanair will join three other low-cost operators when it enters Armenia’s market alongside Pobeda, Air Arabia and Flydubai. Pobeda flies between Gyumri and Moscow Vnukovo; Air Arabia between Yerevan and Sharjah; and Flydubai between Yerevan and Dubai International.

OAG data shows that low-cost operators currently account for 8.9 percent of the overall market, with Pobeda the only budget carrier featuring in the top ten airlines by weekly capacity.

Airlines by weekly capacity share (w/c 14 October 2019):

Armenia’s economic minister Tigran Khachatryan this week said the number of tourists who visited Armenia in the first half of 2019 increased by 12.3 percent, totalling 770,000. It is hoped Ryanair’s flights will stimulate further growth.

Figures from Sabre Market Intelligence show O&D traffic between Armenia and Western Europe of 415,276 passengers in 2018, up from 362,735 the previous year. Germany - Armenia is the largest market, accounting for 91,326 passengers last year.