Low-cost carriers will dominate the Italian summer

by Giacomo Amati
Wizz Air A321 taking off.

With Alitalia in extraordinary administration, low-cost carriers (LCC) are taking advantage of the vacuum left by the Italian national carrier. Consequently, LCCs are now offering more seats on international routes and national ones as well. So let’s see what the Italian aviation market looks like this summer.

Ryanair is now the biggest airline in Italy

It is the first time in history that a low-cost carrier, namely the Irish Ryanair, offers more seats than the national carrier, Alitalia, on national routes. More precisely, this overtaking is expected between July and September 2021. Moreover, not just Ryanair, but also the Hungarian Wizz Air is catching on in the Italian aviation market. In fact, it is now not far from its rival Easyjet, which is now the third airline per number of passengers carried in Italy.

The overtaking of Alitalia by Ryanair is only possible thanks to the investments of the Irish airline  in the Italian market. Moreover, with Alitalia trying to contain its costs and the NewCo ITA struggling to replace the national carrier, LCCs have an excellent opportunity to fill the void left by AZ.

Alitalia A320 on short final.

The Italian summer

In summer 2021, airlines will offer 45.7 million seats on both national and international flights, 103% more than last year. However, if we want a more realistic scenario, we should compare this summer with that of 2019, when nobody had ever heard of the COVID-19. Indeed, this summer, there will be 14.5% fewer seats offered compared to summer 2019. Nonetheless, we are finally witnessing a positive recovery of the industry.

In particular, Ryanair will offer 13 million seats this summer, followed by Alitalia, with 6 million. Then comes Easyjet, with 4.8 million and, shortly after Wizz Air, with 4.3%. Finally, Volotea is also making headway in the Italian scenario, with 2.4 million seats.

A Ryanair plane at stand.

As far as the domestic market is concerned, Ryanair will offer 28.6% of the total number of seats, followed by Alitalia, with 28.2%. Compared with summer 2020 and 2019, the decline of the national carrier is evident: two years ago, Alitalia offered 40% of the total number of seats for the summer season on national routes. Last year, the percentage started to decrease and reached 35%.

If we looked at the international aviation market, we would notice that Ryanair still is the first airline in Italy, with 28.6% of the total number of seats offered from/to Italy. But, surprisingly, the second place is now occupied by the Hungarian Wizz Air that, with 8.8% of seats, has taken over the British Easyjet, which offers 8.7% of seats. Finally, just out of the podium, in the fourth place, we find Alitalia, with 6.6%.

An Easyjet plane moments before landing.

LCCs’ strategy

With an extremely week national airline and the closure of the UK borders because of the spread of the Delta variant of the Coronavirus, LCCs are relocating their capacity in other countries. In this logic, Italy is the perfect spot to offer more seats. However, experts say there are too many seats available compared with the actual demand. Therefore, analysts are witnessing a new trend: approximately a third of all flights are cancelled six to two weeks before the scheduled departure. And this appears to be the new normality in the industry, at least for the time being.

What do you think of the dominance of LCCs in the Italian market? Let us know in the comment below! 

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