Ryanair launches flights to Albania after explosion in tourist numbers

Ryanair launches flights to Albania after explosion in tourist numbers
Ryanair's winter 2023 schedule will include 17 new routes to Albania with 200 weekly flights. / Ryanair
By bne IntelliNews June 12, 2023

Europe’s biggest airline, low-coster Ryanair, has announced the launch of 17 routes to and from the Albanian capital Tirana after an overhaul of the country’s main airport. 

Ryanair’s decision follows a hike in the number of tourists visiting Albania, which experienced a dramatic post-pandemic recovery in the tourism sector, as well as a capacity expansion at Tirana International Airport to handle up to 10mn passengers a year. 

Ryanair said in a press release that its winter 2023 schedule will include 200 weekly flights and the introduction of 17 new routes to Albania. This expansion is expected to bring approximately 700,000 passengers to and from Tirana and generate over 1,000 local jobs.

By adding Albania to its network, Ryanair will now serve a total of 37 countries. The move provides immediate access Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania, Sweden and the UK.

"As Europe's largest airline, we are delighted to announce 200 weekly Ryanair flights to/from Albania starting from winter '23,” said Eddie Wilson, CEO of Ryanair DAC. 

“We have worked closely with our partners here at Tirana Airport to launch these 17 new routes and hope to strengthen the relationship over time as we work together to drive inbound tourism and connectivity to Albania. These routes will allow millions of visitors from major cities across Europe to experience the wonders of Albania, from the white sandy beaches of the Albania Riviera to the historical architecture of Unesco site Gjirokastër, and lively nightlife in Tirana,” he added. 

"I am confident that through the extensive network of Ryanair, Tirana International Airport will contribute to the further development of passenger choices, tourism, and the economy of Albania. We look forward to a fruitful partnership with Ryanair,” said Musa Kastrati, senior vice president of Kastrati Group. 

On June 8, the Albanian government announced the completion of the capacity expansion project at Mother Teresa International Airport in Tirana. The investment was needed because of the continuous year-on-year increase in passenger flow, which has reached unprecedented levels. The airport can now accommodate approximately 10mn passengers a year.

The arrival of Ryanair signifies a significant milestone for Albania, Prime Minister Edu Rama said. "This shows that we have received an important stamp which comes after a long effort to change not only the image of Albania, which today is in all international media as the place to visit, but also to change many other aspects related to the creation of this image,” the prime minister said. 

Tirana International Airport has witnessed tremendous growth in passenger numbers, with 5.2mn people travelling through the airport in 2022. This figure is expected to reach 6.5mn in 2023. Rama said he expects the goal of 10mn tourists will be reached before the target of 2030.