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December 4, 2013

Benelux: Ryanair Plans Ten Destinations From Zaventem

Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair announced big plans involving Brussels Airport. Ryanair plans to offer 10 new destinations from Zaventem: Alicante, Barcelona, Ibiza, Lisbon, Malaga, Palma, Porto, Rome, Valencia and Venice. The goal is 1.5 million new passengers each year. According to Ryanair, it will create 1,500 new jobs at the airport. Planes should start landing in February. Two hundred weekly flights are planned.

The airline is aiming at both business and leisure travellers. The news comes as a serious challenge for Brussels Airlines and others operating at Brussels Airport. Earlier this month, the Spanish low-cost carrier Vueling also announced flights between Brussels and Fiumicino. Competition will be harsh. Ryanair fares will be slightly higher compared to Charleroi (Brussels South Airport – the regular Belgian Ryanair hub) but still 50 percent below the average Brussels Airlines rate for the same destination, according to Dennis O’Leary.

Despite a statement from Brussels Airport that Ryanair does not have any slots at present, it’s already possible to book from Zaventem on the airliner’s website. Flying out of Brussels is an important change in Ryanair’s strategy of concentrating on secondary regional airports like Charleroi, benefitting from subsidies to keep prices as low as possible. That strategy is coming under EU pressure, since it’s considered unfair competition.

Brussels Airlines, responded casually to the announcement. They’ve been competing with them for the last 12 years, and for the first time, they’re paying on the same field. Airport tax in Brussels is €26, in Charleroi it was €3.


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