Ryanair is pulling out its muscles and intends to take over a quarter of the European sky within 3 or 4 years

Ryanair is pulling out its muscles and intends to take over a quarter of the European sky within 3 or 4 years
Ryanair is pulling out its muscles and intends to take over a quarter of the European sky within 3 or 4 years

It’s hard to believe that air transport is in crisis when you look at the ambitions displayed by Ryanair. Jason McGuinness, commercial director of the Irish low-cost company, was in Paris on September 16 to announce the opening of ten new routes this winter from Beauvais. Ryanair will serve 53 destinations from the Isar airport from November, its biggest program to date for a winter season. Around 210 flights will be operated each week.

Ryanair is therefore continuing its development in Beauvais. The company had already resolved in December 2020 to make the airport its fourth French base – after nearly 25 presence all the same – with two planes. The company has since strengthened its program on several occasions. Starting from 32 routes in December 2020, it has grown to 45 during the 2021 summer season and now 53.

Among the ten new routes launched this winter, Agadir, Amman, Helsinki, Liverpool, Riga and Santander will have two weekly frequencies, while Malaga, Gdansk, Tallinn and Turin will be served three times a week. On the choice of these destinations, Jason McGuinness was laconic, specifying only that Ryanair was targeting opportunities rather than developing its market share in a particular country.

On the French market, Ryanair will deploy its aircraft on 197 routes this winter from 26 airports. While most will be international, the program still includes seven domestic lines. This should represent a total of nearly 650 flights per week. The company has also reopened its Toulouse base this summer, with a device that will remain this winter. She also placed a new plane in Marseille at the start of the summer.

Ryanair to open a base in Beauvais, its fourth in France

Traffic inflated this summer

At European level, Ryanair is also strengthening itself. Encouraged by a resumption of traffic this summer, the company will offer more than 2,000 lines this winter. After transporting 9 million passengers in July, then 11 million in August, Jason McGuinness expects an average of 10 million passengers per month until March 2022. The commercial director hopes to exceed 90 million passengers over the year , that is, the upper range of its forecasts.

The occupancy rate also rose by around 20 points to 80%. It is still far below the 96% that Ryanair used to post before the crisis, but the performance is enough to make a large number of competitors dream.

Just a few weeks ago, Michael O’Leary was nevertheless pessimistic: “the recovery was very strong during the peak of the summer season but this winter will be difficult. We are trying to restore our pre-Covid traffic but this can only be done at lower prices (…). I do not think that we will make money this winter but we will not lose a lot of it “, then explained the managing director of Ryanair to AFP.

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Traditional companies lagging behind

The sound of the bell therefore quickly changed. “Ryanair recovered very quickly from the pandemic. It was a very traumatic eighteen months for everyone, but air traffic has restarted very quickly, just like Ryanair, ”said Jason McGuinness, who hopes to quickly find normal traffic. It is even advancing on a target of 165 million passengers for the fiscal year 2022-2023, which will end in March 2023. In just three years, Ryanair would thus exceed its pre-crisis traffic (149 million passengers for the ‘fiscal year 2019-2020).

Jason McGuinness is also quite vague about the target markets or the traffic segments offering development possibilities. The commercial director simply announces that he is targeting the opportunities and adds that they will be numerous with the crisis. He estimates that national companies, “which have received more than thirty billion in aid”, will never regain their pre-pandemic level. Likewise, he considers that concentrations will very likely take place between European companies, thus freeing up space in certain markets. “We are aiming for a 20 to 25% market share by 2024 or 2025”, he announces finally. Against around 15% before the crisis, as Ryanair’s managing director, Edward Wilson, told La Tribune last year.

“It’s a shame to have helped Air France” (Edward Wilson, CEO of Ryanair)

The Irish company has also revised its medium-term objectives. While it had previously counted on 200 million annual passengers by March 2026, the company is now targeting 225 million passengers to date. A hitherto unprecedented figure, remarkable in view of the current crisis in air transport. It should nevertheless be qualified a little: before the pandemic, Ryanair hoped to reach 200 million passengers by March 2024.

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