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Monday, March 27, 2023

Ryanair to close FRA base and cancel flights

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Ryanair is shutting down its Frankfurt Airport (FRA) operations and canceling flights, blaming rising costs at Germany’s busiest airport.

From March 31, 2022, the Irish low-cost carrier will relocate five aircraft currently based at FRA to other airports in its network and cancel all planned flights to and from the airport.

“Efficient operations and competitive airport fees are key to traffic recovery post Covid and instead of incentivizing Ryanair to stay and grow, Frankfurt have opted to drive away traffic and jobs by increasing airport charges,” Ryanair said in a statement on January 7, 2022.

The airline, which is known for its tough negotiating abilities with airports and suppliers, said it has notified crews based in FRA of the decision and would give them alternate bases within its European network.

Ryanair said it expects to expand across Europe in summer 2022, aided by the delivery of 65 new Boeing 737 MAX 8200 aircraft, and that “a plethora” of airports are interested in attracting more Ryanair flights.

“We are disappointed to announce the closure of our Frankfurt am Main base at the end of March 2022, but we have no alternative in response to a decision from the airport to increase its airport fees, despite the collapse in traffic caused by the Covid-19 pandemic,” director of commercial Jason McGuinness commented.

Ryanair, which flew more passengers than any other European airline in 2021, said it will continue to invest in Germany, particularly in Nuremberg, where it has two planes based.

In response, a Fraport spokesman expressed sympathy for Ryanair’s decision, but classified the Fraport pricing hike as mild.

“We’ve raised our charges by 4.3%. That’s a very moderate increase when compared with some of our European colleagues,” the spokesman said.

In the United Kingdom, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has approved a 37 percent increase in costs at London Heathrow (LHR) to £30.19 ($40.89), with a final decision on the next five-year period to be made by summer 2022.

Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA), Germany’s largest airline with its primary base at Frankfurt airport, is unlikely to be disappointed by Ryanair’s move.

Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA) claimed it might save hundreds of millions of euros if it were offered a similar agreement when Ryanair revealed plans to start flying from FRA in 2016, thanks to incentives from the airport operator.

Due to decreasing customer demand for travel, both Ryanair and Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA) have declared plans to reduce capacity in January due to the spread of the Omicron strain of the COVID-19 virus across Europe.


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