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Sunday 4 December 2016

Ryanair aims for 25pc of all European flights

Michael O'Leary
Michael O'Leary

Low-cost airline Ryanair expects to be operating one in every four European short-haul flights within the next eight to 10 years, its chief executive said.

The Irish carrier currently has a market share of about 14pc in Europe, serving about 100 million passengers a year, and aims to increase that to 160 million passengers by about 2024.

"We're going to grow across all the European markets. We'll go to a 25pc market share over the next eight to 10 years," Michael O'Leary said in an interview on the sidelines of the FVW travel conference in Essen, Germany.

Germany, Europe's biggest economy and largest travel market, will play a big part in reaching that target. The airline hopes to increase its market share in the country to 20pc from 5pc over the next five years.

Expansion in Germany is a key test of hitting the 25pc market share target, Merrion Stockbrokers' analyst David Holohan said.

"If they can crack Germany then it's doable," Holohan said. "Given the size of the fleet they'll be running, that should be readily achievable in 10 years."

Other analysts warn it will not be easy for Ryanair to expand in Germany, especially given its policy of avoiding expensive airports such as Frankfurt and Munich, Germany's largest.

"I therefore think it's unlikely Ryanair will quickly reach such a strong position in Germany as it has in Britain," said aviation expert Gerald Wissel from Airborne Consulting.

Domestic

Ryanair - which also plans to grow in Scandinavia, Italy, and Spain - this month started its first domestic route in Germany since 2011, a five-times-a day hop between the cities of Cologne and Berlin.

Mr O'Leary said bookings were "phenomenal", thanks in part to an offer for fares as low as €10, while Business Plus tickets were also reported to be selling well.

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