The quiet and shy airline that is Ryanair was busy yesterday announcing some major expansion on UK Domestic routes, as well as expansion on other routes.
Ryanair Boeing 737-800 taking off – Image, Economy Class and Beyond
Let us break down what the press releases say, and what they mean.
London (Covering Stansted, Gatwick and Luton).
Six new destinations will open for Summer 2023. These include three domestic routes – Belfast, Cornwall, and Edinburgh, with international routes to Asturias, Klagenfurt and Leipzig.
Planned frequencies are:
- Edinburgh – 3 flights daily
- Belfast – 2 flights daily
- Asturias – 3 flights weekly
- Leipzig – 3 flights weekly
- Cornwall – 3 flights weekly
- Klagenfurt – 2 flights weekly
In total, the airline will offer over 180 routes, operating over 3,000 flights a week from the three airports, basing 57 aircraft in the region (14 of which being Boeing 737-8 200, the rest being Boeing 737-800).
There will be frequency increases on 30 of the “summer sunshine” routes too on 30 of them, including Malaga, Nantes and Mallorca.
As to the domestic traffic of Belfast, Cornwall, and Edinburgh, this comes as the UK government cuts Air Passenger Duty on domestic flights.
Outside the London bubble, Ryanair will add an Edinburgh to Cornwall route, operating twice weekly from June to September. The airline also serves Alicante, Faro Dublin and Malaga – along with London which has been announced.
It wouldn’t be a Ryanair presser if they didn’t Ryanair calls again on the UK Govt to entirely abolish Air Passenger Duty (APD) for all travel immediately, which according to the airline:
“would not only promote tourism but support much needed connectivity to the UK – an island-based economy on the edge of Europe.”
In London, Ryanair CEO, Michael O’Leary said:
“Ryanair is pleased to bring even more choice to London citizens and visitors for Summer ‘23. Our schedule has grown 10% on last Summer, with 3,000 weekly flights scheduled across 180+ routes, incl. 6 new sunshine destinations and increased frequencies on 30+ other popular routes like Berlin, Malaga, Mallorca, Nantes and Palma.
While the halving of APD on domestic flights from Apr ‘23 has allowed Ryanair to add more domestic routes to our UK schedule for Summer ’23 – incl. London Stansted to Belfast, Cornwall and Edinburgh – if we are to continue to grow and drive traffic/tourism recovery for the UK, Prime Minister Sunak should immediately scrap APD for all travel and provide incentives for airlines like Ryanair to stimulate growth and recovery for the UK, incl. London.
Putting Pressure on Rail Operators
It is interesting seeing that Ryanair is biting the cherry that is domestic travel and going after two routes in which rail is the major competitor – Edinburgh and Newquay (Cornwall) – both major railheads with connectivity – putting pressure on LNER (the dominant player on the East Coast Main Line), as well as Lumo (which was set up to compete with airlines). Meanwhile, Ryanair will dance with Great Western Railway between Cornwall to London whilst having fun with CrossCountry on the Edinburgh route.
With Air Passenger Duty being reduced, the temptation to grab a seat on an aircraft could be very tempting for some passengers – depending on the timings. In addition, rail has not made things easy for itself, thanks to recent strike action.
It is going to be interesting how long these domestic routes hang around.
Sometimes you have to admire O’Leary’s chutzpah, but I don’t see the government reducing APD on domestic flights. If anything, I’d expect it to go up on intra-GB flights where the passenger isn’t connecting to an international flight because of the ongoing pressure to reduce CO2 emissions. (We could see a cut on flights to/from Northern Ireland.) Even if Rish! does cut domestic APD, barring some miracle that lets the Tories squeak back in, Labour will likely put it right back up.
But given the ongoing disaster that is the British rail system, the government’s inability to sort it, and the high (compared to the Continent) rail prices in the UK, even with APD these services could be pretty popular.