Ryanair will become the first major low-cost carrier (LCC) to operate at Frankfurt’s main international airport rather than far-out Hahn.
Starting on March 29 next year the carrier will begin flights from Frankfurt to Palma, Malaga, Faro and Alicante. These will be operated by a pair of B737-800s.
Previously LCCs stayed away from Frankfurt in favour of Hahn because of the former’s congestion and its high costs. And airport management preferred it that way.
But as we reported (see Analysis: Easyjet or Ryanair for Frankfurt?) things are changing at Frankfurt.
In the past the airport relied almost solely on conventional airlines for its passenger traffic. But that market is not expanding to any great extent.
Quoted at the time in Germany’s financial media, Fraport (Frankfurt’s operating company) CEO Stefan Schulte said, “Low-cost will play a greater role in Frankfurt because the [conventional] market is now so developed.”
“You cannot permanently walk past a market segment [budget air travel] that is now expected [to be made available to] by customers.”
Today’s statement from Fraport says, “Fraport’s cooperation with Ryanair is predicted on long-term growth of the airline at Frankfurt Airport. The basis of this cooperation will be formed by meeting the special requirements of low-cost airlines via customized processes and operations, which also facilitate short turnaround times. In the medium term, Fraport will also meet the increasing demand for low-cost offerings by adapting passenger and terminal processes accordingly.”
What it means is that congested Frankfurt will make every effort to meet the special operational needs of the LCCs. It’s similar to what happens at other busy airports like Amsterdam Schiphol and London Gatwick.
Some readers will be disappointed by the first routes announced by Ryanair as they operate solely for leisure. It had been thought that any routes started by Ryanair or Easyjet would be to business destinations where the fares are more lucrative and would therefore justify the higher costs of operating at Frankfurt.
However Ryanair’s future expansion may well cover destinations in, for example, the UK, Ireland and Holland.
Quoted in lse.co.uk Ryanair CEO Kenny Jacobs said, “This is very small for Ryanair. But all things start out small. We hope to come back in January with a winter [2017/18] schedule that is much bigger.”
Ryanair intends to have a greater presence in the German market with a share of 15 to 20 per cent with an operation at 20 airports.
Germany’s Lufthansa cannot be happy at this development its home base.
In a tweet @lufthansaNews it said “Welcome to the real Frankfurt, dear Ryanair. In case you get lost on such a big airport, just give us a call !”
Airline analyst John Strickland tweeted, “Lufthansa’s yields (revenue) are under pressure, union challenges remain and then Ryanair announces a new Frankfurt base.”