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Ryanair challenges Vueling and grows at Barcelona airport.

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The first European airline in passengers will increase its activity at El Prat with 71 routes, 20 more than in 2019.

Ryanair has set Spain as its priority market this year, where it expects to overcome pre-pandemic activity with a growth strategy in which Barcelona airport is a key player. The first European airline in passengers will increase its capacity at El Prat, where it will operate 71 routes, twenty more than in 2019, with 14 aircraft based and about 400 employees, the company’s marketing director, Dara Brady, announced Thursday.

The Irish low cost thus strengthens its presence in Barcelona, where it is second airline behind Vueling. The IAG airline leads by far the flights and passenger traffic from El Prat, its main hub. Now Ryanair is trying to take market share from it in a summer season where competition and attempts to overcome the covid crisis will be at their peak.

Ryanair expects to carry 7.8 million passengers in Barcelona during its next fiscal year – from April 2022 to March 2023, a figure similar to that of the 2019 financial year. This represents 85% of the expected activity in Catalonia. At Girona airport Ryanair will offer 22 routes and base one aircraft, while it will maintain the 11 routes at Reus.

In the case of Vueling, the airline has set out to recover the international market this 2022 after having achieved a remarkable performance in the domestic sector during the pandemic. The new schedule that the IAG company presented last month matches the precovid figures in terms of routes, with a strategic bet on the United Kingdom and France, where it is growing remarkably.

Of the 320 routes planned from the end of March, 220 are international. At Barcelona airport, connections will reach 2019 levels with 100 routes, 75% of which to foreign destinations. Most of the growth this year, however, comes from the momentum at Gatwick (London) and Paris Orly airports. At the former, it doubles connections compared to 2019, with twelve direct routes from this London airport between March and October (summer season in civil aviation).