FRANKFURT, April 10 Low cost carrier Ryanair
plans to expand at Cologne airport in Germany, joining
rivals in boosting services in Europe's largest economy and
providing more competition for Lufthansa on its home
Ryanair will base one aircraft and open up five new routes
from Cologne, in Germany's most populated federal state of North
Rhine-Westphalia, in October, the budget carrier said on
The airline therefore joins rivals such as Easyjet
and Spain's Vueling, all of which are hoping to take
advantage of Germany's strong economy and its citizens' love of
Low cost carriers have been slow to break into Germany, in
the same way as they have taken over in other markets like
Britain, France and Spain.
But analysts say low-cost carriers have spotted an opening,
especially as Air Berlin, Germany's second largest
airline, struggles with its finances.
"Germany is the growth engine of Europe. As an European
airline, it would be wrong to leave out Germany," Vueling German
manager Ulla Siebken told journalists in Frankfurt last month.
Except for routes that feed into its hubs in Frankfurt and
Munich, full-service carrier Lufthansa has now handed over its
European short-haul operations to Germanwings, its low-cost
Ryanair said it is investing over $90 million in Cologne.
The new routes are to Dublin, London Stansted, Madrid, Riga &
Rome Ciampino, reflecting Ryanair's move into larger airports,
rather than smaller regional airports.
Vueling plans to increase revenue by 25 percent in Germany
this year as it offers 33 percent more capacity, in terms of the
seat kilometres it offers.
Easyjet is also expanding, putting in extra planes to Berlin
and launching routes to Hamburg.
"Germany for us is good," Easyjet CEO Carolyn McCall told
Reuters last month. "We're doing well in Berlin... and we just
launched in Hamburg. That will be good for us. All the signals
are very good."
(Reporting by Victoria Bryan, Peter Maushagen and Cyril
Altmeyer; Editing by Mark Heinrich)