Battle Of The ULCCs: Wizz & Ryanair Reveal New Venice Base On Same Day

Wizz Air and Ryanair’s growth in Italy continues, with both ultra-low-cost carriers (ULCCs) announcing a brand-new base at Venice Marco Polo, the famous city’s main airport. This means Ryanair will now have 17 bases in Italy, joining seven for Wizz Air. Significantly, Wizz Air only revealed its first base – at Milan Malpensa – just 17 months ago, showing how fast it has grown.

Ryanair, Boeing 737 MAX, destinations
Both Ryanair and Wizz Air revealed new Marco Polo bases on the same day. Photo: Luka Cvetkovic – @euro_spotter.

What’s happening?

While Ryanair will base three 197-seat B737 MAX 200s at the Venice Marco Polo, Wizz Air will base two 239-seat A321neos. Combined, the ULCCs will introduce 34 routes, as detailed in the following table. Ryanair’s coming routes include links to new bases at Helsinki and Stockholm Arlanda, together with Cork, which will reopen in December 2021.

Intriguingly, Ryanair’s new base announcement comes soon after it opened a base at Treviso, a long-standing alternative airport to Venice. The carrier has two B737-800s at the airport and it’ll be intriguing to see if and how it now changes.

AirlineFrom Venice to…Start dateWeekly flights
Wizz AirCagliariMarch 3rd3
RyanairCaligariMarch 27th14
Wizz AirCasablancaMarch 4th3
RyanairComisoMarch 28th3
RyanairCorkMarch 29th2
RyanairCrotoneMarch 28th3
Wizz AirFuerteventuraApril 3rd2
RyanairGdanskMarch 27th2
RyanairHelsinkiMarch 27th2
RyanairKatowiceMarch 27th2
Wizz AirKeflavikApril 2nd2
Wizz AirLamezia TermeMarch 3rd4
Wizz AirLampedusaMarch 6th2
RyanairLisbonMarch 27th5
Wizz AirLondon LutonMarch 3rd4
RyanairMadridMarch 27th7
RyanairMarseilleMarch 27th4
RyanairMenorcaMarch 27th2
Wizz AirMykonosJune 1st3
Wizz AirNaplesMarch 3rd7
RyanairNurembergMarch 29th2
RyanairOdesaMarch 27th2
Wizz AirPalmaJune 1st3
Wizz AirPragueApril 1st3
RyanairSantanderMarch 28th2
Wizz AirSantoriniJune 4th2
Wizz AirSharm El SheikhNovember 1st (2022)2
RyanairStockholm ArlandaMarch 29th2
Wizz AirTallinnMarch 4th2
Wizz AirTel AvivApril 2nd2
Wizz AirTenerife SouthNovember 1st (2022)3
RyanairToulouseMarch 30th2
RyanairTrapaniMarch 28th3
RyanairViennaMarch 27th7

Wizz Air and Ryanair in the Venice area

Both ULCCs have long served Venice-area airports. Ryanair has served Treviso, around 40 kilometers from Venice, for many, many years. It was a classic secondary airport for the wider Venice region.

Ryanair had more than three million seats at Treviso in both 2018 and 2019, OAG data confirms, then making the airport one of its largest non-bases. It is now a base. Meanwhile, Wizz Air has been at Treviso since 2008. It has grown slowly and steadily, with 447,000 round-trip seats in 2019.

Wizz Air first served Marco Polo in 2011 and again in 2017 and 2020, but for one reason: the brief closure of Treviso. The same is broadly true of Ryanair. It wasn’t until 2019 and 2021 that Ryanair and Wizz Air respectively started to get going at Marco Polo.

Ryanair and Wizz Air coming routes at Venice

These are Ryanair and Wizz Air’s coming routes. Yellow = Ryanair; purple = Wizz Air; blue = where both will operate. Note: Naples is included in blue because Wizz will begin it, complementing Ryanair’s existing service.  Image: GCMap.Stay awareSign up for my weekly new routes newsletter.

Little head-to-head competition

With ultra-efficient new equipment to be based at Marco Polo, competition between the pair of ULCCs continues. Except it doesn’t, really. For while Ryanair has revealed 18 routes and Wizz Air 16, they’ll compete head-to-head on just two based on the coming routes and three overall.

In addition to existing direct competition to Catania, they’ll also compete to Naples when Wizz Air begins. And they’ll be head-to-head on the 403 nautical mile link to the Sardinian destination of Cagliari.

While Wizz Air will have three-weekly flights to Cagliari, Ryanair will have 14-weekly. How the ‘battle of the beasts’ plays out on this route will be exciting to watch. Italian consumers should get ready for absurdly low fares, for Volotea also links Caligari from Marco Polo, and Ryanair serves it from Treviso too.

Wizz Air A321neo
Wizz Air will base two A321neos at Venice. Photo: Airbus.

Wizz Air has doubled its Italy presence

Wizz Air has used the pandemic to adjust its network strategy to increasingly focus on Western Europe to Western Europe markets. Multiple countries now have bases. Not all have worked, especially in Norway, but the adjustment has been relentless.

Italy is no exception, with Venice joining new bases at Milan Malpensa, Bari, Catania, Naples, Palermo, and Rome Fiumicino. This fast expansion has seen Wizz Air’s Italian seat capacity grow by 203% this year versus 2019.

Development of key LCCs and ULCCs to, from, and within Italy
Of these airlines, only Wizz Air has exceeded its 2019 capacity. Source of data: OAG.

Must feel somewhat sorry for the ‘new’ Alitalia

While 2022 data is far from complete and currently excludes the new Venice base, Wizz Air has 6.8 million seats planned between January and September – over twice as many as the whole of 2019. 2022 looks set to be another record-breaking year, but perhaps one to ‘bed down’ all the capacity growth as demand hopefully returns and outpaces capacity.

The year 2022 will hopefully also see Ryanair, easyJet, and Volotea finally pass 2019 capacity. In the current year, OAG shows that Ryanair is at 72% of its 2019 volume, Wizz Air 203%, easyJet 40%, and Volotea 78%.

What do you make of their growth in Venice? Let us know in the comments.