Sector length distribution comparison for Ryanair, easyJet and Wizz Air; similarities and differences
One of the fundamental building blocks for a successful low-cost carrier over the years has been high utilisation of the aircraft and avoiding crews night-stopping away from their home base. Typically, this has meant that airlines have tried to achieve at least three return flights per day (or six sectors), sometimes even four return flights (eight sectors). This will usually require early departures for the first flight of the day and late arrivals back at base for the last return flight of the day. It also requires sector lengths not to be excessively long.
Air Service One has analysed Cirium schedules for June 2023 for Europe’s three biggest (U)LCCs (Ryanair, easyJet and Wizz Air) to look at how the airlines’s networks are spread across different sector length ranges. During June of this year, Ryanair will be operating almost 2,400 routes. Wizz Air (and its various subsidiaries) will offer around 860 routes. easyJet will have over 780 routes. Yes, Wizz Air is now operating more routes than easyJet, although the latter is offering 50% more seat capacity on its network. Meanwhile, Ryanair is still 20% bigger than a combined easyJet and Wizz Air would be.
Wizz Air average sector length longer than its rivals
The average sector length across all flights for easyJet and Ryanair are reasonably similar. Ryanair’s average sector length is 1,230 kilometres while for easyJet it is 1,245 kilometres. Both operate a significant number of domestic routes. For Wizz Air, which operates far fewer domestic services, the average is significantly higher at 1,525 kilometres. Using band ranges of 200 kilometres (and 250 kilometres at the higher end) we have determined what percentage of their routes (not flights) fall into each category.
Not surprisingly, Wizz Air, with its longest sector length and relative dearth of domestic routes, has the lowest proportion of flights below 800 kilometres. However, from 800 to 1,600 kilometres it is ahead of its rivals. Between 2,600 and 3,250 kilometres easyJet has the highest share, though above 3,250 kilometres Wizz Air is again the leader.
For each of the carriers their shortest and longest routes (in June 2023) are as follows:
- easyJet: shortest is Belfast BFS to Isle Of Man at 122 kilometres (served 2-weekly), longest is Manchester to Hurghada at 4,147 kilometres (served 4-weekly)
- Ryanair: shortest is Malaga to Tetouan at 142 kilometres (served 6-weekly), longest is Warsaw WMI to Tenerife TFS at 4,093 kilometres (served 3-weekly)
- Wizz Air: shortest is Tirana to Bari at 248 kilometres (served 12-weekly), longest is Vienna to Abu Dhabi at 4,245 kilometres (served 3-weekly)