Budget airlines increase Italian market share

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Low-cost carriers increased their overall share of the Italian market in 2011, carrying 39% of all passengers.

Of the total 147.9 million passengers passing through Italy's airports, budget carriers transported 58.1 million people, against 46.8 million a year earlier, according to figures released by the country's regulator ENAC. This represents a 39% share of the market and was an incease of 3 percentage points on the previous year.

Overall, passenger numbers rose by 6.5% against 2010, with low-cost carriers growing traffic by 24% and legacy carriers by 8.2%.

Alitalia Group was Italy's most popular airline in 2011, carrying a total of 25.9 million passengers during the year.

However, ENAC's figures do not separate the performance of its two group carriers, Alitalia and Air One.

Irish budget carrier Ryanair was in second place, carrying a little over 22 million passengers during the year.

In fact, of the top five airlines, ranked by passengers carried, three are from outside Italy. Ryanair transported 22.1 million passengers in 2011, EasyJet 10.5 million and Lufthansa (including regional operator Air Dolimiti) 6.4 million. Meridiana, in fifth place, was the next biggest Italain airline with 4.3 million passengers, according to ENAC. Seventh-placed WindJet (2.6 million) was the only other Italian carrier in the top 10.

Rome Fiumicino remained the most popular airport, handling 37.4 million passengers, followed by Milan Malpensa (19 million) and Milan Linate (9 million).