Ryanair and Wizz Air compete directly on 131 routes this winter; Barcelona-Rome FCO top for overlap

Ryanair and WizzAir Compete

Ryanair is the largest airline serving Europe and has 1,784 routes this winter, based on at least four departing flights. In contrast, Wizz Air has 700 routes that touch the continent based on the same criteria. While much smaller, Wizz Air is famed for fast growth and for an increasingly diverse network, especially advanced during the pandemic.

The two ULCCs are often perceived as keen adversaries, with the low-cost battle hotting up with the growing use of higher-capacity equipment with lower seat-mile costs: the A321neo by Wizz Air and the MAX 8 200 and – in the future – MAX 10 by Ryanair.

They compete on 131 routes this winter

Analysis of Cirium schedules tells that the two ULCCs compete directly on 126 international routes and five domestic this season. It means that 7.3% of Ryanair’s routes face Wizz Air, while nearly one in five (18.7%) of Wizz Air’s offerings face the larger operator. It would obviously be much higher if indirect competition was considered.

As direct competition is necessarily growing – up from only 68 routes in W19 – it explains why the fight for the lowest-cost operator by CASK is particularly intriguing. The fight has now spread to Albania.

Ryanair and Wizz Air

Albania is the new battleground

While Wizz Air has served the nation for years and has more than half of available seats, Ryanair only launched service to the country on 31 October 2023. It is the first time it has served Albania and is very late to the party.

They compete directly on 10 routes, nearly 60% of Ryanair’s network from the country, particularly to all-important Italy. It would have been higher still, but Wizz Air has cut some thinner markets which never had non-stop service before – let alone by two ULCCs – such as Edinburgh. Five additional routes have indirect competition, but it would have been six had Wizz Air not ended Liverpool (Ryanair serves Manchester).

Athens International Airport

Ryanair Albania

Rome FCO-Barcelona is the leading overlapping market

When the pair’s available seats are combined, the top 10 airport pairs with the greatest competition are shown below. Given Italy became the centre of Wizz Air’s COVID-driven network reorientation, including much intra-Western Europe flying, it is no surprise that that country accounts for eight of the 10 markets.

Indeed, 51 of the 131 overlapping markets are to, from, or in Italy, including all five domestic airport pairs. However, Italian overlap has fallen from 56 routes in W22 due to Wizz Air cutting 15 domestic markets.

Wizz Air is larger in seven of the top 10, primarily those having a Central and Eastern Europe airport on one end, its bread-and-butter market. Of course, having more seats does not mean they are filled, that yields are sufficient or that performance is strong.

Top 10 markets for direct competition W23

Budapest has the most route overlap

The Hungarian capital, Wizz Air’s spiritual home, sees the two ULCCs face each other to 20 destinations: Alicante, Amman, Athens, Barcelona, Bari, Berlin, Birmingham, Brussels CRL, Catania, Copenhagen, Edinburgh, Lisbon, Madrid, Malaga, Malta, Naples, Stockholm ARN, Tel Aviv, Tenerife TFS and Thessaloniki. Wizz Air has more capacity to 14 and Ryanair to six.

Top 10 airports for route overlap W23

PDC Aviation IATA 154