When In Rome: Ryanair Doubles Down In Italy

If any European country has become the battlefield since coronavirus began, it is Italy. Now, Ryanair – the country’s largest airline – has revealed three extra aircraft based at Rome Fiumicino. It’ll launch six new routes, including Liverpool, and increase frequency on various others, notably Catania. It has taken the fight to Wizz Air, whose Fiumicino base opens soon.

When In Rome: Ryanair Doubles Down In Italy
Ryanair will double the number of aircraft at Rome Fiumicino to six. But will they operate beyond the summer? Photo: Google Images.

While Ryanair’s Italy presence is down by 45% this summer against summer 2019 (S19), it doesn’t mean it is out. Quite the contrary. The ultra-low-cost carrier (ULCC) remains the country’s leading operator, with 15.2 million round-trip seats, analyzing data supplied by the airline to OAG reveals.

This means the ULCC has about 4.8 million more seats than second-placed Alitalia. However, the gap between the pair has halved since S19, mainly because Ryanair is number one internationally and second domestically. And with quarantine, border closures, and more, the gap narrowing was inevitable but temporary.

Now, Ryanair has announced three additional B737-800s will be based at Rome Fiumicino, one of 14 bases across the southern European country. And for a very good reason: Wizz Air’s coming Fiumicino base, with 32 new routes.

When In Rome: Ryanair Doubles Down In Italy
All but one of Ryanair’s six new routes from Fiumicino will compete head-to-head with Wizz Air. Photo: Getty Images.

Ryanair’s Fiumicino growth

Ryanair will double the number of based aircraft at Fiumicino to six. When its other Rome base, at Ciampino, is considered, 14 738s will be based in Rome this summer. Fiumicino is Italy’s leading airport, with Milan Malpensa a distant second. Jason McGuiness, Ryanair’s Director of Commercial, said:

“We are delighted to confirm our commitment to Rome and the region, with 78 routes in total from both airports. In particular, we are pleased to announce three additional based aircraft in Rome Fiumicino, along with six new routes and over 65 extra departing flights every week this summer, doubling our presence at the airport.”

When In Rome: Ryanair Doubles Down In Italy
Ryanair has added back capacity on various existing routes while expanding others, especially the 335-mile link with Catania. Photo: Getty Images

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Six new routes from Fiumicino

The ULCC is adding six international routes, as follows, with a very strong focus – as you would expect – on summer sun destinations. These bring its total network from the airport to 23, based on bookable routes on its website. The Greek islands have been very popular this summer.

  1. Chania: three-weekly beginning August 3rd
  2. Fuerteventura: three-weekly, August 1st
  3. Liverpool: four-weekly, August 1st
  4. Santorini: four-weekly, August 1st
  5. Tenerife South: three-weekly, August 3rd
  6. Zakynthos: four-weekly, August 2nd

With the exception of Chania, on the island of Crete, all routes will face head-to-head competition with Wizz Air, although Wizz begins a month earlier. Ryanair’s Chania service will face indirect competition with Wizz Air to Crete’s main airport: Heraklion.

When In Rome: Ryanair Doubles Down In Italy
In mid-August, one-way fares from Fiumicino to Catania can be had from just €6.59, or about $8, tax-inclusive. Hopefully, traffic volume growth will far outweigh the decline in yields. Image: Ryanair.com.

Now daily to Liverpool – from zero

Liverpool has been connected to Rome for years. Ryanair served Ciampino until 2012, while Blue Air served Fiumicino between 2017 and 2019. It has been unserved since then.

Now, it’s returning, despite Italy being on the UK’s amber list – not green – meaning leisure travel is all but banned and passengers must quarantine on arrival into the UK. Liverpool will have a once-daily service this summer, the highest frequency since 2008, a year when the route had 109,000 round-trip passengers, the UK’s CAA shows.

Wizz Air will serve it three-weekly, while it’ll be four-weekly with Ryanair; a natural competitive response. At the time of writing, a one-way ticket is available for about $21.

When In Rome: Ryanair Doubles Down In Italy
Ryanair is adding these six routes from August. Image: GCMap

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Fiumicino to Catania flights are up by 7%

Ryanair will also add frequencies on eight existing routes, although cheekily some will simply be returning to what about what they had pre-COVID – so not ‘real’ growth.

However, Catania, in Sicily, stands out. Ryanair is adding seven extra weekly flights, for a total of 49. This airport pair will have 147 weekly departures in mid-August (around 21 a day!), as follows, up from 137 in the same week in 2019.

  • Alitalia: 84 weekly departures
  • Ryanair: 49
  • Wizz Air: 14

Will you be visiting Italy this summer? Also, what do you think of Ryanair and Wizz Air’s expansion in Rome? Let us know in the comments.