The objective of this article is to compare two leading European low-cost airlines Ryanair and EasyJet in terms of patterns of price changes. Both airlines are known for using yield management in their ticket pricing. That means it is not always best strategy to buy tickets earlier as prices may drop later.
With aggregated data about price behavior for Ryanair and EasyJet, we can see if there are significant differences in how they change prices.
For this experiment, we use the data for London Stansted (STN) - Palma de Mallorca (PMI) flights. These flights are direct competitors with similar price range. Mallorca is a popular mainly as a summer destination, but there are flights on this route all year long. All price observations used in this study contain observations made during June - November 2015. We made daily price observation for this flight for both airlines.
Stats for STN-PMI flights
Now given the fact that the price for both airline is similar, we will study which other factors may affect purchasing decision. Following is the the side-by-side comparison of key indicators related to price changes for Ryanair and EasyJet.
How often do prices change?
In other words what is the volatility of prices for each airline. This mainly affect travelers who prefer to avoid booking early and find the optimal moment to buy tickets. More often prices change, higher chance are to find a cheaper fare. At the same time such waiting strategy is more risky.
The following chart shows the behavior of price comparing to the day before.
The numbers show that EasyJet change prices by far more often. For EasyJet only in 30% of cases the price stayed the same as the day before. Ryanair prices are more stable and in 83% of cases there was no change. Keep in mind that we have only considered daily changes. If price changed several times throughout one day, but returned to the same level next day, it was not considered as a change.
How much do prices change?
It shows how much a traveler can save or lose when waiting for better fare. Average price raises and drops are the following.
|Average price drop||18%||2%|
|Average price increase||25%||4%|
This is where the difference become clear. EasyJet changes price much more often, but average changes are below 5%. For EasyJet a pragmatic traveller should check prices more often, but don't expect high day-to-day changes. Ryanair changes are more radical, at each step the average increase is more than 25%. So waiting strategy with Ryanair is more risky, but potentially more rewarding.
Which days of week do prices change?
As shown in the following chart, for Ryanair the highest number of price drops was observed on Tuesdays. For EasyJet highest number of the drops were observed on Wednesdays.
- Fares for London (STN) to Palma de Mallorca (PMI) flights for Ryanair and EasyJet are similar.
- Ryanair change price less frequently and the changes are more profound.
- EasyJet change price very frequently and the changes are minimal.
- For both airlines the chances of finding price drops depend on day of week.