Ryanair Plots Italy Growth, Eyes Extra Rome Slots

ryanair jets on tarmac
Credit: Piotr Mitelski/Ryanair

Ryanair wants to further expand its presence in Italy’s capital Rome, with group CEO Michael O’Leary confirming that the Irish carrier will seek to acquire additional slots that could become available as a condition of Lufthansa’s plans to buy a stake in ITA Airways.

Speaking at a press conference to announce the ULCC’s northern summer 2024 schedule from Rome Fiumicino Airport (FCO) and Rome Ciampino Airport (CIA), O’Leary told reporters that Ryanair would be “very interested” in taking more slots at FCO, insisting that the Lufthansa-ITA Airways deal will open new opportunities for the airline in Italy.

Ryanair is already the second-largest carrier at FCO, accounting for almost 13% of capacity offered from the airport during 2023. ITA Airways is the largest with a near 28% capacity share. At CIA, Ryanair holds a dominant position, accounting for about 90% of the capacity last year, OAG Schedules Analyser data shows.

On Jan. 23, the European Commission opened an in-depth investigation into Lufthansa’s plans to buy a 41% stake in ITA Airways, saying it wants to ensure the proposed deal will not reduce competition in short- and long-haul traffic. This came after Lufthansa’s concessions offered to help win approval for the deal—understood to involve relinquishing slots in Milan—were deemed insufficient.

O’Leary said Ryanair was less interested in taking slots at Milan Linate Airport, preferring to focus on growing its presence at Milan’s Bergamo (BGY) and Malpensa (MXP) airports.

For the summer 2024 season, Ryanair plans to add seven new routes in Rome, flying to Dubrovnik, Gothenburg Landvetter, Lisbon, Malta and Paris Beauvais from FCO, as well as to Gdansk and Riga from CIA. A further two aircraft will be based at FCO, taking its overall Rome operations to 17 aircraft and 82 routes.

In Milan, the airline will also launch new service from MXP to Athens, Budapest, Paris Beauvais, Marrakesh and Tallinn, while there will be new flights from BGY to Beni Mellal, Castellon, Dubrovnik, Sarajevo and Skiathos.

Elsewhere, Ryanair has announced its summer schedule from Spain’s capital Madrid featuring two new routes to Lisbon and Verona. The carrier will offer a total of 62 routes from Madrid-Barajas Airport this summer and station 13 aircraft at the base.

However, the airline has again hit out at Spanish airport operator AENA’s decision to increase airport taxes, which will rise by 4.1% from March. Ryanair DAC CEO Eddie Wilson urged the company to cancel the planned hike and instead “present airlines with a stability program in the rates at the main airports.”

David Casey

David Casey is Editor in Chief of Routes, the global route development community's trusted source for news and information.