Ryanair easily outperforms its rivals in adding customers
Irish airline accounted for 40 per cent of total customer gains by no-frills carriers in 2017
Ryanair filled 12 million more seats in 2017 than a year earlier, while second-ranked EasyJet said Friday that it flew 7.2 million more passengers in the period. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images
Ryanair strengthened its dominance of Europe’s discount airline market in 2017 by adding more customers than any of its rivals, even as a scheduling foul-up contributed to its smallest gain in passenger numbers in three years.
The company filled 12 million more seats in 2017 than a year earlier, while second-ranked EasyJet said Friday that it flew 7.2 million more passengers in the period.
No-frills airlines continued to gain market share across Europe last year, with the top four adding a combined 29 million passengers. Ryanair accounted for 40 per cent of that total, despite a botched reworking of pilot leave that led to cancellations of thousands of flights and forced the company to accept unionisation after crews gained bargaining power. The 10 per cent advance in passenger numbers marked Ryanair’s weakest growth rate since 2014.
Budapest-based Wizz Air, eastern Europe’s biggest discounter, boasted the fastest surge in 2017 passenger numbers among the four main discounters, at 24 per cent, while Norwegian Air Shuttle posted a 13 per cent gain, including long-haul services.
Both carriers are still less than half the size of EasyJet, which aims to grow faster this year after securing planes and operating slots in Germany from failed Air Berlin – which ranked ahead of Wizz in 2016 – with the first flights taking place this week.
The British company is targeting a 2018 tally of 90 million clients, while Ryanair expects to attract 138 million, four million fewer than it had predicted before the pilot crunch.
Network airlines Air France-KLM Group, IAG and Lufthansa have established their own lower-cost operations to better compete for short-haul traffic and fend off an emerging challenge on inter-continental routes.
IAG’s Vueling arm carried 29.6 million passengers last year, keeping it marginally ahead Wizz.