The Dublin-based low-cost airline’s mega deal for up to 300 Boeing 737-10s is just in time to support a push into newer markets.
Ryanair expects passenger numbers in central and eastern Europe (CEE) to surge by at least 50% over the next decade, the airline’s manager for the region said, as it looks to dominate in a less-developed market also targeted by Wizz Air.
Europe’s biggest low-cost carrier has ordered as many as 300 Boeing jets as it seeks to take advantage of the rebound in air traffic following the Covid-19 pandemic and the company sees demand for new routes in eastern Europe.
“We want to focus very much on this region,” Alicja Wojcik-Golebiowska, the CEE and Baltics country manager for Ryanair told Reuters in an interview. “We see that this is going to be a large part of our upcoming expansion.”
“It’s pretty hard at this moment to say about the exact numbers, but we hope that the whole region is going to grow at least by 50%,” she added.
While Poland has long been one of Ryanair’s key markets, Wojcik-Golebiowska said the company was now redoubling its focus on other countries in the region.
“We see that central and eastern Europe was a little bit left behind in last years. So we want to catch up in this region to catch it up with our most developed markets like Spain, Italy or Poland,” she said.
Hungarian budget airline Wizz Air will be its main competitor as it offers similar cheap fares, as well as connections to the Middle East.
Asked how the Irish carrier planned to compete, Wojcik-Golebiowska said it would use “our best fares, with our best punctuality, and also with making sure that we do not have delays and cancellations.”
She said the company was also aiming for a dominant position in countries like Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary.
“We plan to do it with delivering more routes and better fares and more travelling choices for our passengers,” she said.
Airlines in Europe have reported robust summer bookings despite high inflation and an uncertain economic outlook and Wojcik-Golebiowska said Ryanair was confident it would avoid the strikes that contributed to travel disruption in 2022.
“Currently we do not expect to have any disputes with labor unions and with our current employees,” she said.
(Reporting by Alan Charlish in Warsaw and Joanna Plucinska in London; Editing by Mark Potter)
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Photo credit: Ryanair expects passenger numbers in central and eastern Europe (CEE) to surge by at least 50% over the next decade. Portuguese Gravity / Passengers entering a Ryanair aeroplane