Ryanair steps up Lufthansa challenge with flights from Frankfurt - source
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.