DALLAS — United Kingdom-based low-cost carrier easyJet (U2) is contemplating returning to Dublin International Airport (DUB), the base of competitor Ryanair (FR).
This news indicates another major dogfight between two of the largest low-cost airlines in Europe. According to preliminary slot data for the 2023 winter season, U2 will return to Ireland for the first time since 2006.
EasyJet has secured take-off and landing slots at DUB next winter, according to Airport Coordination Limited (ACL), which coordinates slot usage for 72 airports across the world, including Dublin. This marks the first possible offering from Dublin after U2 had short-lived services from Shannon, Knock, and Cork in 2004. The airline could only last 18 months operating in the Irish market.
No low-cost airline had battled FR on their home turf for years when Go Airlines (G8) attempted to compete.
Go was a UK-based low-cost carrier and an independent subsidiary of British Airways (BA) and was launched in 1998. In 1999, after four months, G8 was forced to stop its only service to Ireland between Dublin and Edinburgh as FR had reacted with aggressive pricing tactics on the route. Making it no longer feasible for G8 to operate profitably. G8 is one of many casualties from a previous battle with FR.
With that said, just because easyJet has secured the slots, they might not end up using them. Ryanair is famous for applying for slots across Europe, but they do not always use them. Although there is no guarantee easyJet will use them, the fact that they have applied for them shows that they are ready to battle head-to-head with Ryanair.
The latest report by the ACL shows that U2’s Austria-based subsidiary, easyJet Europe (EC), has secured 88 total take-off and landing slots at DUB between the end of October 2023 and the end of March 2024. However, there is no confirmation of a destination.
Either way, re-entering the Irish market is a huge deal for U2. Nonetheless, for the carrier to have any kind of presence within DUB against FR, it would need to base a significant number of aircraft there. The recent upgrades at the airport create more space and more slots to be utilized at the airport, making an expansion possible.
Ryanair controls the low-cost market in Dublin. The ACL report shows that the airport could have 18.4 million seats available for the winter, with FR having 8.7 million of the seats out of the airport next winter. Aer Lingus (EI) comes in second with around five million seats, and Emerald Airlines (EA), which operates the EI regional service, comes in third.
Featured image: easyJet Airbus A320. Photo: Aberto Cucini/Airways