Ryanair steps up Lufthansa chal­lenge with flights from Frankfurt - source

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

Ir­ish low cost car­rier Ryanair will today an­nounce plans to start fly­ing from Frankfurt air­port, a source fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter told Reuters, step­ping up com­pe­ti­tion with Lufthansa on its home turf.

The flights will likely start from the sum­mer 2017 flight sea­son, which be­gins in March, the source said.

Ger­man daily Frank­furter All­ge­meine Zeitung, cit­ing in­dus­try sources, said Ryanair would fly to pop­u­lar Span­ish tourist des­ti­na­tions such as Mal­lorca.

Air­port op­er­a­tor Fra­port has been in talks with low cost car­ri­ers to boost pas­sen­ger num­bers at Europe’s fourth largest hub, and chief ex­ec­u­tive Ste­fan Schulte told Reuters last month that Fra­port could of­fer fi­nan­cial in­cen­tives for a limited time to en­cour­age new bud­get routes.

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has pre­vi­ously said high fees and long turn­around times at Frankfurt, Lon­don Heathrow and Paris Charles de Gaulle make it dif­fi­cult for low cost op­er­a­tors to fly from those hubs.

The news will pro­vide a fur­ther headache for Fra­port’s main cus­tomer Lufthansa, which has slowed growth at its main brand and has faced strikes while it tries to lower costs and ex­pand its own bud­get unit Eurow­ings.

Fra­port in Au­gust cut its fore­cast for pas­sen­ger num­bers at Frankfurt this year, af­ter at­tacks in Europe de­terred long-haul travellers.

Only a few low-cost car­ri­ers, in­clud­ing Spain’s Vuel­ing and Ice­land’s Wow Air, of­fer flights from Frankfurt, ac­count­ing for just 4 per cent of pas­sen­gers. That com­pares with 20 to 30 per cent at other ma­jor in­ter­na­tional hubs.

Ryanair, mean­while, has been ex­pand­ing in Ger­many, tak­ing ad­van­tage of re­trench­ment by Ger­many’s se­cond largest car­rier Air Ber­lin to add flights from Ham­burg and Ber­lin, in­clud­ing on the Ber­lin-Cologne route pop­u­lar with busi­ness travellers.

Fra­port’s Schulte will today host a press con­fer­ence with Ryanair’s chief mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer Kenny Ja­cobs and chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer David O’Brien at Frankfurt air­port, the com­pa­nies said in press in­vi­ta­tions sent out yes­ter­day. They de­clined to comment on the rea­son for the press con­fer­ence.

Lufthansa also pub­lishes thirdquar­ter re­sults today. Ryanair is due to re­port half-year re­sults on Novem­ber 7, when O’Leary is ex­pected to give an up­date on the car­rier’s progress in at­tract­ing busi­ness cus­tomers.

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