Interesting insight into how much low-cost giant Ryanair has grown in Italy as its services in the country now account for almost a fifth of its total traffic – now rivalling the UK as its largest market.
Here’s an extract from my colleague Victoria Moore’s story on our premium news service Air Transport Intelligence.
Italy is now rivalling the UK as Ryanair’s biggest market, following the budget carrier’s strong domestic growth in the country.
Ryanair deputy CEO Michael Cawley says Italy now represents around 19-20% of its traffic, depending on the time of year, rivalling the UK which stands at the 20% mark.
He explains this is because the budget carrier now operates around 70 domestic Italian routes, compared with just two in the UK.
Low-cost carriers have made big in-roads into Italy over the last couple of years, in part because of the difficulties of the old Alitalia operation, and the cuts in capacity that followed the creation of a new merged carrier combining Air One and the assets of Alitalia. For more on this see an article I wrote for Airline Business a year ago about the fragmentation of the Italian market.
Ryanair’s growth in Italy perhaps underlines a point the airline’s chief executive Michael O’Leary made yesterday in releasing its third-quarter results, where he distanced Ryanair’s fortunes from those of the struggling Irish economy.
“We are surprised that the widespread negative commentary on the Irish economy has been allowed to cloud some analysis of Ryanair’s future growth and profitability. Some commentators misunderstand that over recent years, due to high airport costs at Shannon and Dublin, as well as rapid capacity growth in lower cost markets like Spain and Italy, Ireland has fallen from over 20% of Ryanair’s originating traffic to less than 10% in the current year. Ryanair has little exposure to the Irish economy.”