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Ryanair and Wizz Air were the undisputed leaders in terms of media coverage in the low-cost air traffic market in the Balkan region, according to a new study by the leading media analysis provider Perceptica. The study encompasses all mentions of the three biggest low-cost airlines Ryanair, Wizz Air and easyJet in Serbian, Croatian and Bulgarian online media for the period between June 2016 and February 2017.
Ryanair entered the Bulgarian market in 2010, commencing flights from the country’s second largest city of Plovdiv to London Stansted. It took the company 6 years to expand operations and to open a new base in Sofia. Now the company is quickly catching up with Wizz Air in terms of media coverage, taking 39% of the overall Share of Voice. The third most popular low-cost airline in Bulgaria is easyJet, operating flights from Bourgas, Varna, and Sofia. EasyJet was the second most mentioned company during the first three months of the monitored period, but following news of Ryanair’s Sofia base opening and Wizz Air’s increased marketing efforts, the number of the media publications about easyJet decreased significantly.
The low-cost market in Serbia can still be considered a developing one. Wizz Air came in first in terms of Share of Voice in Bulgaria, but was overtaken by Ryanair thanks to the numerous comments about the latter’s Nis routes. Although Wizz is the de facto Serbian low-cost leader in terms of carried passengers, Ryanair managed to score higher when it comes to media coverage in the country it entered just last year. Ryanair also does not serve Serbia’s capital Belgrade. The low prices Ryanair offered from Nis Airport primarily helped the carrier attain the largest amount of the overall media coverage.
Ryanair and EasyJet were the leading low-cost carriers in Croatia, taking 90% of the media conversation. That leaves the Lufthansa subsidiary Eurowings (ex Germanwings) with 10%. The sheer amount of coverage came from the announcement of new routes from Croatia’s Dubrovnik and Split.
Ryanair scored the most positive attitude on Social and Traditional Media (15% of the overall sentiment). The sentiment towards the most used low-cost carrier in Bulgaria and Serbia Wizz Air remained mostly neutral (83%). However, the positive attitude dominated the negative one (11% vs 6%). The two major contributors to the Wizz Air’s positive online image were the Promotions and Awards themes. While Prices was the most positive driver for Ryanair, users criticized Wizz Air’s high ticket prices on some destinations. News that EasyJet removed a woman off a flight after she suffered an epileptic seizure despite paramedics declaring her fit to fly notably contributed to its negative sentiment.