What’s Behind Ryanair’s Huge 46 Route Greek Expansion?

Ryanair has announced three summer bases at Chania, Corfu, and Rhodes with four B737-800s in all. It’ll launch 46 more routes, almost all without head-to-head competition, helping to close the carrier’s Greece seat gap over summer 2019.

Ryanair 738
Ryanair is to begin three summer-only bases in Greece. Photo: Javier Bravo Muñoz via Wikimedia.

Ryanair has announced three new bases in Greece this summer at Chania, Corfu, and Rhodes. Corfu will see two based B737-800s, while Chania and Rhodes will have one apiece. 46 routes will be added – including more within Greece – with a total of 93 weekly departures. All three bases will be summer-only and temporary and will run from July to October.

Ryanair new Greece routes
Ryanair is to begin 46 more routes to Greece. Image: GCMap

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Why is it happening?

The always-popular Greece has seen even more popularity recently. As Simple Flying showed, TUI will deploy more widebodies to the country than ever, while Heathrow is expected to see over one million Greece for the first time.

This arises from Greece currently being one the few countries in Europe to be very clear in wanting to welcome tourists this summer, with Ryanair and many others shifting capacity to benefit from this increased demand. Of course, much may get in the way.

As Ryanair’s Commercial Director, Jason McGuinness, said:

“Greece is proving to be a resilient destination and is determined to lead the way in tourism recovery as we walk away from the  pandemic. Following the announcement of the first travel corridors with Israel and Cyprus in April and the official re-opening to all international travel from 14th May, we are proud to support the resurgence of the country’s tourism industry and to offer both Greek visitors and customers greater choice and even lower fares.”

What’s Behind Ryanair’s Huge 46 Route Greek Expansion?
Ryanair will serve 14 airports in Greece this summer. Photo: Anna Zvereva via Wikimedia.

46 routes coming

Ryanair’s added routes, shown in the table below, include three to the UK: Rhodes to Birmingham and Chania to both Leeds Bradford and Newcastle. They also include five more within Greece, such as the 147-mile hop from Chania to Mykonos and the 179-mile link between Rhodes and Heraklion.

From To Start date Weekly flights when route begins
ChaniaBariJuly 3rd2
ChaniaBerlinJuly 2nd1
ChaniaBillundJuly 2nd2
ChaniaBolognaJuly 4th2
ChaniaBremenJuly 3rd2
ChaniaBudapestJuly 1st 2
ChaniaCologneJuly 1st 2
ChaniaKyiv BoryspilJuly 6th2
ChaniaLeeds BradfordJune 3rd1
ChaniaMaltaJuly 3rd2
ChaniaMykonosJuly 2nd3
ChaniaNewcastleJuly 4th1
ChaniaRome CiampinoJuly 1st 2
ChaniaTel AvivJuly 1st 2
ChaniaVenice TrevisoJune 4th3
CorfuAarhusJuly 2nd2
CorfuBarcelonaJune 4th2
CorfuCopenhagenJuly 2nd2
CorfuHeraklionJuly 1st1
CorfuKarlsruheJuly 3rd2
CorfuKrakowJuly 2nd2
CorfuMarseilleJuly 3rd2
CorfuMilan MalpensaJuly 3rd2
CorfuMunsterJuly 2nd2
CorfuNurembergJuly 1st2
CorfuOdesaJuly 4th2
CorfuPaphosJuly 3rd3
CorfuSantoriniJuly 3rd2
CorfuSibiuJuly 3rd2
CorfuTel AvivJuly 1st1
CorfuVeronaJuly 1st2
CorfuWeezeJuly 3rd2
CorfuWroclawJuly 1st2
RhodesBarcelonaJuly 1st2
RhodesBirminghamJune 4th2
RhodesBrindisiJuly 4th5
RhodesDublinJuly 3rd2
RhodesHeraklionJuly 3rd2
RhodesMarseilleJuly 2nd2
RhodesMemmingenJuly 3rd2
RhodesPaphosJuly 2nd2
RhodesSuceavaJuly 1st2
RhodesTel AvivJuly 1st2
RhodesThessalonikiJuly 2nd2
RhodesVenice TrevisoJuly 4th2
RhodesWarsaw ModlinJuly 3rd2

Suceava and Sibiu, both in Romania, are new airports in Ryanair’s network this year, and they’ll both have new routes to Greece. Tel Aviv, meanwhile, is a fast-growing airport for the Irish ultra-low-cost-carrier (ULCC), and it’ll see new routes from all three bases. As such, Ryanair will serve six Greek airports (Athens, Chania, Corfu, Rhodes, Santorini, and Thessaloniki) from Tel Aviv.

As is often the case, some of Ryanair’s 46 routes are the result of other airlines ending them. For example, Norwegian was due to operate Copenhagen to Corfu on a once-weekly basis for seven weeks, but its website shows that it is not bookable.

Only a handful to have direct competition

Only a small number of routes will see head-to-head competition with Ryanair, with the ULCC again showing how it strives to open unserved routes. Milan Malpensa to Corfu stands out. Ryanair will be the fourth airline on it, joining Aegean, easyJet, and Wizz Air. Before coronavirus, it had eight weekly departures. Now it’ll have 17.

Vueling A320
Ryanair will compete directly with Vueling from Barcelona to Corfu. But while the Irish giant will initially have a once-weekly service, it’ll increase to six-weekly from July. Vueling will remain at once-weekly. Photo: Aldo Bidini via Wikimedia.

Will help to close Ryanair’s Greece gap

Despite this higher-than-ever interest in Greece, Ryanair’s seats to, from, and within the country are down by nearly one million over summer 2019, although this excludes these coming 46 routes which will help to close the gap.

Ryanair to Greece
Ryanair’s added routes will help to close its seat gap between this summer and that of summer 2019. Source: OAG Schedules Analyzer.

In contrast, Wizz Air and Volotea’s summer offering is up significantly, while easyJet’s is down by just 2%.