Rivalry? Ryanair and Wizz Air compete head-to-head on 165 airport pairs, with Budapest having the most

Wizz Air Vs Ryanair

Cirium data shows that Europe’s two large and fast-growing ULCCs, Ryanair and Wizz Air, collectively have 81 million seats in the all-important Q3 (July-September). The duo has added 26 million seats compared to Q3 2019 (+47%). The growth means that they now have more than one in five (22%) of Europe’s short-haul peak summer capacity, up by seven percentage points in 2019. Their dominance is remarkable and will only grow.

At the Group level, Planespotters.net shows that they have 807 aircraft. Historically, they avoided each other, focusing instead on different airports, routes and geographic areas. Is that still the case?

They compete directly on 165 routes, with Italy being the key market

Using Cirium data to compare Ryanair and Wizz Air’s Q3 network indicates that they face each other head-to-head on 160 international and five domestic airport pairs, as shown on the map. Overlapping markets have increased from 148 in Q3 2023 and from just 54 in 2019.

The degree of overlap would be far higher if indirect services (using different airports to serve the same city pair) were considered as well.

Italy was at the forefront of the duo’s post-COVID network development. As such, it is unsurprising that 68 of the 165 airport pairs (41%) feature this one country, including all five domestic markets: Catania to Bologna, Turin, Verona and Venice VCE, along with Naples-Turin.

In contrast, they compete head-to-head on just 12 UK routes from Birmingham, London LTN and Leeds Bradford. The figure would be far higher if the indirect overlap was included when Ryanair’s substantial STN operation would count.

Shannon AIrport

Budapest has the most overlapping services

Like Italy, Vienna, Tirana, and Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), more generally, have been important battlegrounds for Ryanair and Wizz Air in recent years. Nine of the 73 airports networkwide with at least one overlapping route in Q3 have 10+ such routes:

  • Budapest: 28
  • Rome FCO: 22
  • Bucharest: 17
  • Sofia: 15
  • Tirana: 13
  • Vienna: 13
  • Gdansk: 11
  • Catania: 11
  • Milan MXP: 10

The two ULCCs face each other on 28 Budapest routes. Some 43% of Ryanair’s routes from the Hungarian capital are against Wizz Air, while it’s 44% the other way around. The 28 markets are shown below.

Air Service One Ryanair vs Wizz Air Route Map

Ryanair is the largest airline in two-thirds of overlapping links

Exploring the 165 airport pairs shows that Ryanair has more departing flights on 109 of them, against 56 for Wizz Air. Some 47 of the 56 have a CEE airport on at least one end of the airport pair, reflecting Wizz Air’s bread-and-butter market.

Among other airport pairs, Wizz Air is particularly dominant on Bucharest-Madrid/Naples/Paris BVA, Budapest-Milan MXP, Iasi-Brussels CRL/Paris BVA, London LTN-Palma, Rome FCO-Tenerife TFS, Sofia-Eindhoven, Tirana-Bari and Warsaw WAW-Brussels CRL.

Athens International Airport