MIAMI – Talk about a big move! Analyses of Ryanair’s (FR) route structure by Ralph Anker, editor of the Anker Report, show that the airline is adding 250 routes to its schedule this winter.

The new routes take flight from 116 airports in 34 countries. Thirty-three of those will depart from the United Kingdom.

According to Anker’s analysis, Stockholm Arlanda Airport (ARN) is getting the newest routes (22) while Agadir – Al Massira Airport (AGA) follows with 20. Lisbon (LIS) and Riga (RIX) both are getting 16, while Brussels South Charleroi Airport (CRL) and Rome–Fiumicino International Airport (FCO) will each see 13.

Ryanair Boeing 737-8 9H-QAL. Photo: Alberto Cucini/Airways

Still Losing Money

These route additions come at a time of improving, yet still weak financial results. Ryanair’s six-month numbers (April to September) released Monday show that FR lost £40m (US$54.4m) in that time frame. The airline carried less than half the number of passengers than it had during the same stretch in 2019.

Ryanair’s average Boeing 737 had 40 empty seats. That compares to only seven or eight in 2019. This caused Ryanair to lose £1 (US$1.36) for every passenger it flew during that usually highly-profitable time of year. Vacation and leisure travels are FR’s bread and butter.

However, the industry expects the airline to continue to cut fares to whatever level it needs to sell more seats. That would be consistent with FR’s “yield passive, load-factor active” strategy. That effort seems to be working. In October, the average flight had 30 empty seats.

All this activity may be to deter competitors like easyJet (EC)and Wizz Air (W6) from combining forces and taking on Ryanair. By becoming the largest and most dominant discount carrier in Europe, FR would effectively keep competitors from gaining any significant foothold in the markets served.

Featured image: N4022A (will be EI-HGH), Ryanair Boeing 737-8. Photo: Michael Rodeback/Airways