Ryanair Revealed: The Airline’s Largest Bases

Ryanair’s top-10 bases are of crucial importance to the carrier, with nearly six in ten of its total seat capacity this year. Stansted and Dublin remain the first and second, but there has been change among the others. Meanwhile, new bases will open this summer.

Ryanair Revealed: The Airline’s Largest Bases
Ryanair’s top-10 base list has seen two new entrants this year because of coronavirus. Photo: Getty Images

Ryanair has 85 bases across Europe and North Africa this year. This includes three new summer-seasonal bases in Greece – at Chania, Corfu, and Rhodes – to benefit from the big rise in demand to Greece, given the country is more likely to be open to tourists this summer.

Ryanair plans over 230 routes to Greece, analyzing OAG data indicates, up from 150 in 2019. And new routes are still be added, including Liverpool to Kos, Manchester to Santorini, and Teesside to Corfu on April 21st.

Ryanair Revealed: The Airline’s Largest Bases
Like other airlines, Ryanair is betting big on Greece this summer. Photo: Getty Images

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Croatia, Ireland, and France

Ryanair’s base list also includes Zagreb, announced less than a month ago, at which it will initially have two B737-800s. It’ll focus hugely on the Serbian diaspora across Northern Europe. In a similar vein to Greece, it’ll launch a summer-seasonal base at Zadar, Croatia, with two aircraft. Zadar was a Ryanair base until 2018. The ultra-low-cost carrier (ULCC) had considered reopening it in 2020 but decided against it.

The 85-strong list also includes Cork, Shannon, and Toulouse, which temporarily closed as bases because of the pandemic. While Cork is now unlikely to reopen until 2022, Ryanair announced late last year that Shannon will restart this summer.

Ryanair Revealed: The Airline’s Largest Bases
Brussels Charleroi, where this photo was taken, remains Ryanair’s sixth-largest base. Photo: Getty Images.

Ryanair’s biggest bases

Yet, none of the above-mentioned bases are or will be especially big for the ULCC. In 2021, its top-10 bases are as follows, with further changes to capacity extremely likely. They have 52.2 million seats planned, for about 59% of the airline’s total for the year.

They are all important, but they’ve become less dominant since coronavirus struck. In 2019, its top-10 bases had 99.5 million seats and almost three-quarters the total.

Ryanair Revealed: The Airline’s Largest Bases
Ryanair has 139 routes planned from Stansted this year. Source: OAG Schedules Analyzer.

Changes in the top-10

Stansted and Dublin firmly take the top-two spots – as always. Between them, they have nearly 19 million seats, down by a hefty 20 million versus 2019. These two airports have over one-third (36%) of Ryanair’s seats this year, showing how crucial they are to the carrier. Manchester is the worst hit, with its capacity down by 56% over 2019, although it still retains the eighth spot.

Two new airports make the ‘core-10’ list this year – Alicante and Bologna – with Madrid and Rome Ciampino no longer in it. Madrid was Ryanair’s fifth-largest base in 2019, with 7.5 million seats, while Ciampino – closer to Rome’s center than Fiumicino – had 5.8 million.

Ryanair Revealed: The Airline’s Largest Bases
As things gradually get back to normal, Ryanair will benefit from the additional slots obtained at Stansted from easyJet ending its base there. It obtained slots equivalent to around 44 additional movements daily. Photo: Getty Images.


Despite being Ryanair’s largest base for a long time, Stansted has still grown well. Between 2011 and 2019, it added nearly 8.5 million seats at the Essex airport, OAG data reveals. In this period, its Stansted network increased from 116 to 151 routes. And now, in 2021, it expects to operate 139, with the top-10 shown below:

  1. Dublin
  2. Milan Bergamo
  3. Rome Ciampino
  4. Budapest
  5. Lisbon
  6. Madrid
  7. Warsaw Modlin
  8. Barcelona
  9. Berlin
  10. Krakow
Ryanair Revealed: The Airline’s Largest Bases
Ryanair’s Stansted network in 2021. Image: OAG.

Nuremberg, Oradea, Preveza, Santorini, Zagreb, and Zakynthos will all begin later this year. Oradea was last served from Stansted between 2017 and 2018, while Nuremberg operated between 2013 and 2019, with the route ending from Ryanair closing its base at the German airport. Given BA ended Nuremberg in 2020, the airport will once again be connected non-stop to London.