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Where Ryanair Has The Largest Domestic Capacity

by Staff

Summary

  • Ryanair operates the second-largest number of seats on domestic routes within Europe, with over 31 million in 2023.
  • The largest domestic markets for Ryanair are Italy and Spain, driven by popular leisure destinations like Sardinia, Sicily, and the Balearic Islands.
  • Even Portugal sees more domestic Ryanair traffic than countries like Germany or France, thanks to its Azores and Madeira Islands.


As an airline primarily focused on targeting leisure travelers, Ryanair maintains a complex network with a strong emphasis on international routes. With the single aviation market in the European Union, this ultra-low-cost carrier is pretty much free to operate wherever and whenever it wants across the continent.

Domestic markets, however, have never been the traditional backbone of Ryanair operations. Within Europe, domestic air markets are more conducive to business rather than leisure travel.

Photo: Markus Mainka | Shutterstock

Nonetheless, Ryanair’s domestic operations have expanded significantly over recent years, and today, the carrier connects cities within different European nations across the continent. In this article, we will take a deeper look at the busiest domestic markets within Europe and where Ryanair has the strongest presence.


The largest domestic airlines

In terms of domestic capacity, Ryanair operates the second-largest number of seats on domestic routes within Europe, with just over 31 million in 2023. According to OAG, Ryanair’s domestic operations have rapidly expanded since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a 38.2% increase in domestic traffic from roughly 23 million seats on offer in 2023.

2019 domestic market capacity:

2023 domestic market capacity:

Turkish Airlines

36 million

37 million

Ryanair

23 million

32 million

Aeroflot

23.6 million

24 million

EasyJet

23 million

21 million

In terms of total domestic market capacity, Ryanair lags behind Turkish Airlines but formerly lagged behind the Russian flag carrier Aeroflot as well. Both of these statistics are unsurprising: Turkish Airlines and Aeroflot are legacy carriers serving large, geographically separated city networks that have large amounts of business travel.

Ryanair Boeing 737-800 landing at BCN

Photo: Markus Mainka | Shutterstock

Ryanair and easyJet’s domestic networks tell a more fascinating and less simple story. These carriers fly the rare leisure routes that exist within European nations that cannot be serviced by efficient train travel.

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Largest domestic markets

The two largest domestic markets for Ryanair are naturally the most fascinating to explore and are both more than five times larger than the carrier’s third-largest market. Fascinatingly, both of these markets are not nations with weak railroad infrastructure but rather have unique geographical oddities that promote Ryanair’s services.

2019 domestic market capacity:

2023 domestic market capacity:

Italy

12.3 million

19.1 million

Spain

7 million

8.9 million

Portugal

0.8 million

1.1 million

Among the driving forces within these two massive domestic markets are the sunny island destinations in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic that Ryanair serves within each of these countries. Within Italy, flights to both Sardinia and Sicily are incredibly popular, and with no trains to compete with, budget airlines are in an ideal position to capture market share on these routes.

Bradley Caslin Ryanair

Photo: Bradley Caslin | Shutterstock

In Spain, the story is roughly the same, except with the Balearic Islands (Mallorca, Menorca, and Ibiza) and the Canary Islands providing the bulk of short-haul leisure services, according to Spain’s official tourism website. Even Portugal, which sits far behind Italy and Spain, sees more domestic Ryanair traffic than countries like Germany or France, a fact that can be heavily attributed to the country’s Azores and Madeira Islands.

Nonetheless, European legacy carriers are beginning to slowly enter these short-haul leisure markets. Iberia’s regional subsidiary, Air Nostrum, is set to re-commence operations from Córdoba Airport (ODB) to Gran Canaria and Palma de Mallorca this upcoming summer.

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