Overcapacity: Ryanair & Wizz Air achieve just a 73% LF on Tirana routes where they are head-to-head


Three-quarters of Tirana’s winter seat capacity is provided by ULCC giants Wizz Air and Ryanair, based on Cirium schedules information. While Wizz Air has served the Albanian capital since April 2017, the first flight by Ryanair was on 31 October 2023 – the first day of W23. Ryanair immediately became the airport’s second-largest operator, which was not difficult given the lack of scale of any other carrier there except Wizz Air.

Ryanair has 17 winter routes, Wizz Air 45

Examining Cirum data shows that Ryanair has 399,000 departing seats from Tirana this winter. It became the ULCC’s 56th most-served airport out of 221 system-wide. In contrast, Wizz Air has 1.25 million departing seats, with Tirana now its fourth-largest airport out of 174.

Ryanair’s winter network sees it serve 17 destinations in nine countries: Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania, Sweden, and the UK. Its network includes six airports – Bucharest, Edinburgh, Manchester, Stockholm ARN, Warsaw WMI, Weeze – that had never had Tirana flights until 2023. Bucharest is now also served by Wizz Air.

Due to the Albanian diaspora, Italy accounts for more than half of Ryanair’s capacity (52%), with six airports served. Wizz Air’s network comprises 45 destinations in 15 countries, with Italy also numero uno. But an even greater proportion of its capacity (60%) is deployed there, with 21 airports served.

88% of Ryanair’s routes compete directly or indirectly with its fellow ULCC

Some 10 of Ryanair’s 17 routes compete directly with Wizz Air: Bologna, Brussels CRL, Bucharest, Catania, Krakow, Milan BGY, Paris BVA, Pisa, Prague and Venice TSF. (Wizz Air launched Krakow and Prague on 18 December 2023). Network-wide, Ryanair competes face-to-face with Wizz Air on just 7% of its entire network, showing how much of a battleground Albania has become.

Ryanair does not compete directly with Wizz Air to Edinburgh, London STN, Manchester, Rome CIA, Stockholm ARN, Warsaw WMI, or Weeze this winter. However, Wizz Air serves other airports in the same city or area: London LTN, Rome FCO, Stockholm NYO, Warsaw WAW, and Dortmund/Cologne.

When direct and indirect competition is included, Ryanair is against Wizz Air in 15 of the 17 markets, a huge 88%. It would have been 100%, as Wizz Air had announced Edinburgh (an airport it no longer serves) and Liverpool (near Manchester for the Northwest of England).

Prague International Airport


Just a 73% LF where they competed head-to-head in November

Tirana’s latest passenger data is for November 2023, the first full month of Ryanair operating there. That month, the pair were face-to-face on eight routes (as mentioned above, Wizz Air began in Krakow and Prague in December).

The eight markets had 168,983 two-way passengers. With 237,869 available seats, the average LF was just 73% – far below the usual 90%+ achieved by ULCCs. Only Brussels CRL exceeded 90%, but it is unclear how how fares were to achieve that. The next closest was Paris BVA with 81%.

The worst performance was, not surprisingly, Bucharest: just 62% of seats were filled. Located 625 kilometers apart, the Albanian and Romanian capitals were unserved until both ULCCs started service in 2023. Going from zero to two airlines so quickly is great for consumers but less good for sustainability. While there were 8,424 non-stop passengers in November, it was clearly far from sufficient given the capacity level.

Generally, the eight markets were very overcapacity. Of course, a considerable volume of additional seats started at the wrong time of year – a winter month. It will be interesting to see how things change going forward. And if things do not pick up, change they will. Given how late Ryanair was to the Albania party, does it consider the country a must-win? That would be very unusual for the carrier.

Ryanair and Wizz Air head to head

Montpellier Airport