European low-cost carriers are coming and going at Germany’s two top airports as competition intensifies with network carriers.
Wizz Air will be the second budget airline to launch flights from Frankfurt this year following Ryanair. The Hungarian carrier will start daily low-fare flights from Germany’s largest airport to Sofia in May and then to Budapest in December. With its new Frankfurt services, Wizz will offer 78 routes from 11 German airports. In 2016, Wizz Air carried 2.7 million passengers on its German routes.
George Michalopoulos, Chief Commercial Officer of Wizz Air, said: “We are thrilled to announce the addition of Frankfurt Airport to our ever-growing low-fare network, which now consists of 137 destinations across Europe and beyond. Operating daily with competitive low fares, we are sure that our new Frankfurt routes will be popular among both business and leisure travellers.”
Wizz Air will arrive shortly after Ryanair which will station two planes at Frankfurt and operate daily flights to Palma, Malaga, Alicante and Faro from March onwards. Both carriers will benefit from Fraport’s controversial new charges system that offers incentives to airlines generating passenger growth at the airport.
In contrast, Air France-KLM’s budget subsidiary Transavia will quit Munich just one year after expanding operations and turning it into a base. The Dutch budget airline will withdraw its four B737s currently stationed there at the end of October and only link the airport with Amsterdam and Eindhoven thereafter.
Instead, Transavia will focus on growth in its home Dutch and French markets in future. Managing Director Mattijs ten Brink said: “It is part of our DNA to always look for new opportunities, while at the same time to adjust our business to changing market circumstances.”
Transavia is apparently scaling back after Eurowings announced it would start flights from Germany’s and Lufthansa’s second-largest hub airport this summer. The Lufthansa budget brand plans to station four planes in Munich and fly initially to more than 30 destinations.
This is a central part of its ambitious expansion plans for 2017 driven by the arrival of the 33 leased Air Berlin planes. Karl Ulrich Garnadt, Eurowings chief and Lufthansa board member, expects the fleet to grow to about 110 – 120 planes this year and to carry more than 22 million passengers.