Ryanair doubling size of Prague base

The low-cost carrier will add 15 new routes in summer 2019

Low-cost air carrier Ryanair announced its summer schedule for 2019 at Václav Havel Airport Prague, which is greatly expanded over previous ones.

Ryanair will double the number of aircraft based in Prague and also double the number of routes. There will be 15 new routes to nine countries, for a total of 30 routes and over 130 flights per week. This is an increase in its Prague traffic of 23 percent.

At the same time, Ryanair is facing pressure from unions over labor conditions. An announced strike by cabin crew set for Sept. 28 is expected to lead to the cancellation of some flights but so far is seems Prague will operate as normal.

“Our main aim is to find a consensus with all the unions representing our staff. In total, Friday’s strike affects only 10 percent of all flights Ryanair operates that day, and no flight from or to Prague will be affected,” Ryanair’s Chief Commercial Officer David O’Brien said at a press conference in Prague.

As for the summer schedule, O’Brien was pleased that the carrier’s base in Prague was becoming more important.

“Ryanair is pleased to add two more aircraft based at Prague, [making] four aircraft in total, as part of our biggest ever Prague summer schedule with 30 routes, including 15 new routes to and from exciting cities such as Copenhagen, Marrakesh and Pisa, which will deliver 2.1 million customers per year as we continue to grow Czech routes, traffic, tourism and jobs,” Ryanair’s Chief Commercial Officer David O’Brien said at a press conference in Prague.

He added that there were special promotional fares available online until Sept. 28 for travel in April 2019.

The two added aircraft represent a $200 million investment. The new routes are daily to Copenhagen, four times weekly to Venice, thrice weekly to Paris, Pisa, Riga and Stockholm, and twice weekly to Amman, Bari, Billund, Bournemouth, Gothenburg, Marrakesh, Marseilles, Pescara and Zadar.

The expansion of routes fits in with Prague Airport’s plans to expand both destinations and overall passenger numbers. Prague Airport (Letiště Praha) is the firm that operates Václav Havel Airport.

“We welcome Ryanair's decision to extend the number of flights offered from Prague during the 2019 summer schedule, primarily the introduction of services to the new destinations of Billund, Bournemouth, Pescara and Zadar, which are not currently served directly from Prague,” Prague Airport CEO Václav Řehoř said.

“Alongside the previously announced new routes to Amman and Marrakesh, Ryanair significantly extends the offer of direct flights for Czech passengers, and at the same time brings Prague and the Czech Republic within reach of foreign visitors from the respective markets,” he added.

Ryanair is an Irish low-cost airline founded in 1984, headquartered in Swords in County Dublin, Ireland. Its primary operational bases are at Dublin and London Stansted airports. Ryanair is the largest European airline by scheduled passengers flown, and carried more international passengers than any other airline.

The backbone of the Ryanair fleet is the Boeing 737-800, which accounts for 443 of the carrier’s 444 planes. The other is a Boeing 737-700 used for charter flights and training. The carrier also has orders for 15 more 737-800s and 135 Boeing 737 MAX 8s.

Václav Havel Airport Prague handled a total of 7,463,975 passengers in the first half of 2018, a 10 percent increase over the same period last year, and looks set to break last year's annual record of clearing 15,415,001 passengers. That was an increase of 17.9 percent compared to 2016.

Václav Havel Airport Prague opened April 5, 1937, as Prague Ruzyně Airport. Right after former president Václav Havel's death on Dec. 18, 2011, an online petition asked the government to rename it to Václav Havel International Airport. This name change took place Oct. 5, 2012, on what would have been Havel's 76th birthday.

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