Ryanair trials transfers in Rome as non-aligned network provides timely success margin

Ryanair has selected Rome’s Fiumicino Airport as the launch platform for connecting flights offering passengers one-stop connectivity across an initial network of ten routes. Passengers will be able to connect to or from Alicante, Barcelona, Bari, Brussels, Catania, Comiso, Malta and Palermo via the Italian capital city and more markets are due to be added to the concept in the coming weeks and months.

Like traditional legacy operators, passengers will receive one booking reference for both flight bookings, have checked-in baggage transferred through to the next flight to their final destination and will be able to remain airside at Fiumicino between the flights.

This connecting flights service is the newest initiative delivered under Year 4 of Ryanair’s ‘Always Getting Better’ programme, with more connecting flights services to be rolled out across the entire Ryanair network later this year provided the Rome Fiumicino trial proves to be a success.

Ryanair is also continuing “discussions with Aer Lingus and Norwegian – and other potential partners – with a view to launching connections with third party airlines later this year,” says its chief commercial officer, David O’Brien. The first of these agreements, with an “unexpected partner,” according to a Blue Swan Daily source, could be announced as early as next week.

A closer look at Ryanair’s schedules at Fiumicino highlights why these initial markets may have been selected for the transfer flights with schedules that permit long connections for the budget carrier. As Ryanair has built its network on local point-to-point demand, its schedules have been based purely around generating the strongest demand and not aligned around connectivity opportunities.

As such the Alicante – Rome route is served only three times weekly in June with arrivals and departures in Rome at different times on each of the days the route is served (18:50 and 19:25 on Wednesdays;  15:25 and 18:05 on Fridays; and 09:55 and 10:30 on Sundays). Likewise, the Malta – Rome route is served daily but with five different arrival and departure times in the Italian capital, dependent on the day of travel.

This means that while Ryanair is offering connection options between eight different markets via Rome, there are only ten routes actually currently connected via Rome with some being offered on a less than daily basis. These involve minimum transit times varying between 2hr 30min and 5hr 45 min.

In the first week of June, nine city pair connections are possible and comprise…

  • Catania – Bari with a minimum 3hr 25min outbound and minimum 2hr 55min inbound on a daily basis;
  • Catania – Barcelona with a minimum 3hr 10min outbound and minimum 2hr 30min inbound on a daily basis;
  • Catania – Brussels with a minimum 2hr 30min outbound and minimum 2hr 40min inbound with five times weekly outbound and daily return frequencies;
  • Comiso – Barcelona with a minimum 5hr 45min outbound and minimum 5hr10min inbound four times weekly;
  • Malta – Barcelona with a minimum 3hr 40 min outbound and minimum 3hr 5min inbound with daily outbound and twice weekly return frequencies;
  • Palermo – Alicante with a minimum 3hr 20 min outbound and minimum 3hr 15min inbound with three times weekly outbound and twice weekly return frequencies;
  • Palermo – Barcelona with a minimum 3hr 50min outbound and minimum 3hr 45min inbound on a daily basis;
  • Palermo – Bari with a minimum 2hr 50min outbound and minimum 4hr 10min inbound on a daily basis;
  • Palermo – Brussels with a minimum 2hr 50min outbound and minimum 2hr 40min inbound on a daily basis

From this winter connections will also be added on a further route…

  • Bari – Barcelona with a minimum 3hr 15min outbound and minimum 4hr 35min inbound three times weekly

Ryanair will face direct competition on eight of these routes with only Palermo – Alicante and Comiso – Barcelona not having non-stop flights. This competition comes from other low-cost carriers Volotea and Vueling, while Brussels Airlines provides a legacy airline service on the two routes into Brussels. These ten new markets will see Ryanair introduce its branded service into new O&D markets totalling 355,000 annual passengers without having to add any additional flights.

READ MORE… Ryanair’s next step to becoming a network airline: Air Europa long haul feed & Rome transfer product