Ryanair to close FRA base and cancel flights, blames higher charges

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Ryanair is closing its operations at Frankfurt Airport (FRA), and scrapping flights, citing increased prices at Germany’s largest airport. 

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

“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 carrier, known for its hard bargaining skills with airports and suppliers, said it has informed crews based in FRA of the decision and will be offering them other bases within its European network.  

Ryanair said that it will grow across Europe in summer 2022, helped by delivery of 65 new Boeing 737 MAX 8200 aircraft, and that “a multitude” of airports were looking to attract 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 carried out more flights than any other carrier in Europe in 2021, added it was continuing to invest in Germany, for example at Nuremberg, where it has based two aircraft. 

When contacted by AeroTime, a spokesman for Fraport said in response the Ryanair decision was regrettable, but described the Fraport price increase as moderate.  

“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 Britain, the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has approved an interim increase for charges at London Heathrow (LHR) to £30.19 ($40.89), a rise of 37% from 2022 prices, with a final decision on the next five-year period to be taken by summer 2022.   

A company unlikely to be regretting the decision by Ryanair is Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA), Germany’s largest airline and which has its main base at Frankfurt airport. When Ryanair announced plans to start flying from FRA in 2016, thanks to incentives from the airport operator, Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA) said it could save hundreds of millions of euros if it was offered a similar deal.  

Both Ryanair and Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA) have been feeling the pain from the surge of the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus across Europe, having announced plans to cut back on capacity for January due to lower customer demand for travel.  

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