One by one Europe’s major airports are opening their doors to the low-cost carriers (LCCs).
Amsterdam, Brussels, Copenhagen, Paris CDG, Rome FCO and Vienna are just some of the airports which have decided to encourage LCCs in recent times.
And now it’s the turn of Frankfurt.
According to Germany’s financial website Boersen-Zeitung.de the CEO of Fraport Stefan Schulte is quoted as saying, “Low-cost will play a greater role in Frankfurt because the [conventional] market is [now] so developed.”
Fraport is the operating company for Frankfurt which, in terms of importance, is second only to London Heathrow in Europe.
Frankfurt is also the main base for Germany’s Lufthansa and currently acts as a mammoth switching point both for Lufthansa and fellow Star Alliance carriers.
But like the bosses at other major airports, Stephan Schulte realises that the opportunities for growth from the classic network carriers are limited.
Says Schulte, “You cannot permanently walk past a market segment [budget air travel] that is now expected [to be made available to] by customers.”
He also revealed that “Easyjet has requested slots at Frankfurt on several occasions already.”
Provided they can acquire the slots and are prepared to pay the fees (airlines regularly complain that Frankfurt is very expensive) LCCs can serve Frankfurt. Vueling operates a limited number of flights already Iceland’s Wow will arrive next month.
However if Frankfurt wishes to appeal more to the likes of Easyjet and Ryanair it will have to provide the necessary terminal facilities (perhaps a “budget section” within a terminal) and be prepared to negotiate on landing fees.
Frankfurt’s main airport would be a logical development for both these major LCCs.
Because the city’s secondary airport at Hahn (used by Ryanair) is unattractive as it’s too remote. Indeed Ryanair has been winding down its operations there and is expected to divert some flights to Luxembourg (see Ryanair will soon be serving Luxembourg, April 12)
Also both LCCs wish to tap the lucrative business market to Germany and Frankfurt is a major omission on their networks.
But the news will not go down well with the conventional carriers who until now have faced little competition (to Frankfurt) from LCCs so ticket prices are high.
****UPDATE: In a statement emailed to Business Traveller by Easyjet, the carrier stated: “We confirm that Easyjet hasn’t applied for slots at Frankfurt for the season to come”.****