Ryanair has announced details of a €5 billion investment plan to significantly boost its services and infrastructure in Spain. During a meeting this month with Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez at La Moncloa Palace, Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary said the seven-year plan envisaged increasing the current 55 million passengers to 77 million.
He said the airline company – one of the main low-cost operators at Corvera Airport Murcia – also planned to expand the number of routes from 730 to more than 1,000 by 2030, base 33 new aircraft (“more sustainable as they emit 20 per cent less CO2”) and open five new bases.
According to a government press release after the meeting, Sánchez stressed the importance of the airline’s commitment to Spain as a reflection of the stability and potential of the Spanish economy and the confidence this inspires in international markets and investors. He said it also supported the strengthening of a key sector such as tourism, which (as figures later released by Turespaña confirmed) ended 2023 with record figures.
At the meeting, which was also attended by minister for transport and sustainable mobility Óscar Puente, Sánchez and O’Leary agreed to work on strengthening regional airports, noting that the development of this type of airport, with an increase in air traffic, would boost territorial development and economic activity in the area.
Ryanair has a total of approximately 6,500 employees in Spain, leads the way in terms of number of passengers carried, and operates more than 700 routes from Spain to 29 countries. In the domestic market it operates 82 routes.
Meeting with International Airlines Group
One week after his meeting with the Ryanair CEO, Pedro Sánchez also met Luis Gallego, CEO of International Airlines Group (IAG), at La Moncloa. During their meeting, they analysed a €6,000 million investment the airline group plans to make in Spain over the next five years. This will be in addition to €5,000 million already invested over the past five years, as part of a transformation process for its Spanish airlines.
Headquartered in Madrid, IAG is the parent company of Spanish airlines Iberia, Iberia Express, Vueling (which operates at Corvera Airport Murcia) and LEVEL, Irish airline Aer Lingus and British Airways.
Sánchez thanked IAG for its commitment to Spain by expanding its investments, which Gallego reported would be allocated to renewing its fleet and improving customer service, as well as for innovation and sustainability initiatives aimed at continuing the group’s advances in decarbonising flights.
Record International Passenger Numbers
In 2023, Spain received more than 95 million international air passengers, surpassing the previous record dating to 2019, which is considered to be the pre-pandemic reference point.
According to Turespaña’s official figures, the total of 95,032,138 exceeded the record number in 2019 by nearly 554,000 international passengers, and was 18.1 per cent higher than in 2022.
Of the total, 59 per cent flew on low-cost airlines (such as Ryanair) and the remaining 41 per cent on traditional carriers, and 56.5 per cent travelled from other European Union countries.
By countries, the United Kingdom sent the most international air passengers to Spain in 2023 (more than 21 million and a 15 per cent increase compared with 2022), followed by Germany (13 million) and Italy (almost nine million).
Corvera Airport Murcia (officially known as Aeropuerto Internacional Región de Murcia) closed 2023 with a total of 877,796 registered passengers, representing a 4.6 per cent increase on traffic compared with 2022. The total mostly comprised international passengers (785,670), while the number of flights operated in 2023 (both international and domestic) totalled 6,700.