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Ryanair now has almost 18% of intra-European seats up from almost 12% in November 2019

The start of the W21/22 season has seen Ryanair launch almost 250 new routes, way more than any other airline in Europe (or the world for that matter). As a result, analysis of Cirium Data and Analytics schedule data for November 2021 shows that its share of intra-European seat capacity has increased to 17.6%, which is 5.7 percentage points higher than what it was achieving in pre-pandemic November 2019. Only three other airlines have more than 5% of the market; Turkish Airlines with 6.3%, easyJet with just over 6% and Lufthansa with almost 5.8%. While the vast majority of carriers are still operating at below their November 2019 levels, Ryanair’s seat capacity in November 2021 is 12% higher than this time two years ago according to Cirium.

Top 20 airlines on intra-European routes in Nov 21

A look at Europe’s top 20 airlines for intra-European seat capacity shows that 13 of them have lost market share compared with two years while seven have gained. The only airlines that have gained at least 0.5 percentage points of share are all (U)LCCs (shown in red), with Wizz Air, Pegasus Airlines and Pobeda joining Ryanair in making significant market share gains. However, not all LCCs have gained market share as a result of the pandemic, with easyJet losing 1.5 percentage points of market share (the most of any airline in Europe) and both Eurowings and Norwegian losing just over 0.5 percentage points. It is noteworthy that Ryanair’s market share of 17.6% is greater than that of its four nearest (U)LCC rivals (easyJet, Wizz Air, Pegasus Airlines and Vueling) combined.

Legacy carriers losing market share

Of the 12 legacy carriers in the top 20, nine have lost market share compared with November 2019. Only three (Iberia, KLM and Turkish Airlines) have gained market share and none by more than 0.2 percentage points. Lufthansa and British Airways have both seen their market share drop by a whole percentage point, while ITA Airways/Alitalia and SAS have both lost around 0.9 of a percentage point.

Top 15 airlines in Europe for market share growth

Looking at which other airlines have increased their market share by the highest amount reveals which carriers might be said to have done well during the pandemic. Apart from the four (U)LCCs already mentioned and shown in the first graph, three other low-cost carrier have increased their market share by more than 0.3 percentage points. They are Blue Air, Transavia France and Volotea. Three regional carriers with a strong focus on domestic routes have also done well. Olympic Air and Sky Express in Greece, and Widerøe in Norway all rank in the top 15.

Three Russian carriers are also featured in addition to Pobeda. S7 Airlines, Nordwind Airlines and Smartavia have all grown their share of intra-European capacity compared with two years ago. The only other top 15 carrier not already mentioned is SunExpress, the leisure airline formed as a joint venture between Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines back in the late 80s.