Ryanair Riga Rivalry: Inside The Competition With airBaltic

Ryanair has announced its next base at Riga. Not to be left out, airBaltic has on the same day revealed three additional routes from the airport. Ryanair’s new base will see 16 routes added this winter for a total of 30. Of these, just nine will be head-to-head with airBaltic – although it’s quite different if indirect competition is considered.

Ryanair Riga Rivalry: Inside The Competition With airBaltic
Ryanair’s new Riga base will open this winter. Photo: Getty Images.

Ryanair has announced a new base at Riga, which will open this coming winter and have two based aircraft. Speaking about this, Ryanair’s Commercial Director, Jason McGuinness, said:

“We are delighted to announce the opening of a new base in Riga, which will support economic recovery as well as international connectivity, delivering 16 new routes (30 in total) from the end of October.”

This new base – first identified by Sean Moulton, the ‘UK Aviation Schedule Analyst’, as shown below – comes on the same day as airBaltic revealed three additional routes from the Latvian capital.

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Ryanair at Riga

Ryanair has flirted with the one million seats at Riga for years. If so many additional routes weren’t coming, which will grow its capacity at the airport significantly, Riga would have been the ULCC’s 73rd-largest airport this year, analyzing OAG data reveals. It would have been one place ahead of Billund and one behind Gran Canaria.

Until coronavirus struck, the ULCC had been pretty much flat at Riga by both seats and the number of routes, as shown in the figure below. Note that 2021 data does not reflect its coming routes or the higher capacity that will result. It shows what it would have been pre-announcement.

Ryanair will now have 33 routes from Riga this year (30 in winter), and seat capacity will beat its previous record either this year or in 2022. Still, Riga won’t be a large base. Simple Flying recently examined the ULCC’s top-10 bases.

Ryanair Riga Rivalry: Inside The Competition With airBaltic
Note: 2021 data is what it would have been had the growth not happened. Source: OAG Schedules Analyzer.

Ryanair’s added routes

Ryanair’s added routes are detailed below. Six will start on October 31st, including Bristol, which will use Bristol-based aircraft. The West Country airport is one of six Ryanair routes from Riga to the UK this year and was last served in 2012.

Four of the 16 will have head-to-head competition with airBaltic, while a further six will have indirect.

  1. Aarhus: starting November 2nd, three-weekly
  2. Bristol: October 31st, twice-weekly
  3. Budapest: November 1st, three-weekly; competing directly with airBaltic’s twice-weekly
  4. Burgas: not yet known
  5. Frankfurt Hahn: twice-weekly (see below); competing indirectly with airBaltic’s 12-weekly
  6. Gothenburg: November 2nd, three-weekly; competing directly with airBaltic’s six-weekly
  7. Krakow: October 31st, twice-weekly
  8. Kyiv Boryspil: November 1st, twice-weekly; competing directly with airBaltic’s 21-weekly
  9. Lviv: October 31st, twice-weekly
  10. Malaga: November 2nd, twice-weekly; competing directly with airBaltic’s twice-weekly
  11. Memmingen: November 1st, twice-weekly; competing indirectly airBaltic’s 10-weekly
  12. Oslo Torp: October 31st, four-weekly; competing indirectly with airBaltic’s 14-weekly
  13. Palmero: November 2nd, twice-weekly
  14. Paris Beauvais: October 31st, twice-weekly; competing indirectly airBaltic’s 11-weekly
  15. Rome Ciampino: November 2nd, three-weekly; competing indirectly airBaltic’s 3-weekly
  16. Warsaw Modlin: October 31st, five-weekly; competing indirectly with airBaltic’s 7-weekly

Hahn is interesting. It has been a long-standing Ryanair route, varying between 40,000 and 60,000 seats each year. But it hasn’t been served during the winter since 2018, OAG shows.

Ryanair Riga Rivalry: Inside The Competition With airBaltic
Three of Ryanair’s added routes have been served previously: Bristol and Burgas (in 2018) and Rome Ciampino (until 2012). Photo: Getty Images.

New airBaltic routes

airBaltic has revealed three more routes from Riga: Kos, Pisa, and Valencia. None will compete directly or indirectly with Ryanair.

At the time of writing, the start date and weekly frequencies of these routes aren’t known and they aren’t currently bookable. What can be said, though, is that that Kos was last served by the carrier in 2019, while Pisa operated in 2015.

Ryanair Riga Rivalry: Inside The Competition With airBaltic
airBaltic will begin Kos, Pisa, and Valencia from Riga. Photo: Getty Images.

This year, airBaltic has 96 routes from the Latvia airport, up from 72 in 2019. And a handful of routes are still to begin. These include Dubai, Edinburgh, Heraklion, Manchester, Naples, Santorini, Tenerife South, Trondheim, and Yerevan.

All will be served by the Airbus A220-300, the airline’s sole aircraft. Yet as Simple Flying showed, Riga-Dubai still won’t be the longest route for the A220.

What are your thoughts on Riga’s development? Comment below!