Ryanair shrinks no-fly zone as it adds primary airports to schedule

Deal with Frankfurt Main and talks with Paris Charles de Gaulle indicate strategy shift

Ryanair chief commercial officer David O’Brien, Fraport AG chief executive Stefan Schulte and Ryanair chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs at the announcement that the Irish carrier is opening a base at Frankfurt Main airport. Photograph: Andreas Arnold/EPA

Ryanair chief commercial officer David O’Brien, Fraport AG chief executive Stefan Schulte and Ryanair chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs at the announcement that the Irish carrier is opening a base at Frankfurt Main airport. Photograph: Andreas Arnold/EPA

 

Ryanair’s list of airports on whose runways it would never land used to be as long as your proverbial arm, but these days it has been shortened to just one: Heathrow.

The Irish carrier announced on Wednesday that it is opening a base at Frankfurt Main, one of those that was once close to the top of its no-go list. It has also had talks with Paris Charles de Gaulle, which for a long time also graced the same blacklist.

A deal with the Paris hub may be some time away, as Ryanair chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs says French charges and taxes remain too high and it has other options in Italy, Spain and, increasingly, Germany. Nevertheless, the fact remains that the airline is now open to going there, something it would have readily dismissed just a few years ago.

Consumers are driving the airline’s change of heart. Jacobs points out that as low-cost airlines, led by the Irish carrier, continue to grow their slice of the European air-travel cake, primary airports have to respond by opening their doors to Ryanair and its rivals. “They have to offer their customers the low-cost option,” he says.

Thus the Irish company was able to strike the kind of deal with Frankfurt that it wanted. It is basing two craft there and from next summer will fly four routes to sun-holiday destinations in Spain, where it is also planning to grow next year, and Portugal.

Jacobs also said it hoped to be back in Frankfurt in the new year to announce a winter schedule. Ryanair has had its eye on the German market for some time. It was one of the countries that it targeted for growth as its always getting better programme began to take off and it has doubled its share to 8 per cent in two years.

So that just leaves Heathrow. As Jacobs says that the carrier simply doesn’t need a presence there and already has plenty of coverage through London’s other airports, the hub looks unlikely to ever leave Ryanair’s now very exclusive no fly zones .

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