Lufthansa, Ryanair to drive Frankfurt airport passenger growth this year

FILE PHOTO: A Ryanair aircraft parks at tarmac of Fraport airport in Frankfurt, Germany, November 2, 2016. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/File Photo

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German airport operator Fraport FRAG.DE said it expected passengers numbers at Frankfurt airport to rise by between around 4 to 6 percent this year, driven by main customer Lufthansa LHAG.DE and Ryanair RYA.I.

Lufthansa is currently doing more flying as a result of the demise of local rival Air Berlin, while Ryanair has started flying from Frankfurt as part of a bid to operate from more major airports and expand in Germany.

Fraport expects passenger numbers of between 67 and 68.5 million at Europe’s fourth-busiest airport this year, up from 64.5 million in 2017, it said on Friday after reporting 2017 results.

Frankfurt was slow to open up to low cost carriers. They accounted for around 3 percent of flights at Frankfurt last year, compared with figures of around 10 to 20 percent at other German airports.

In February, passenger numbers at Frankfurt rose 8.5 percent, driven by short-haul European routes. The number of seats offered by carriers at the airport in the upcoming summer travel season is up 7 to 8 percent, Fraport said.

However, main customer Lufthansa is still putting on pressure over airport charges and said on Thursday it remained in talks with Fraport on how to bring costs down, while improving the quality of the services at the airport for passengers.

Fraport said 2017 earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) dropped 4.8 percent to 1.003 billion euros ($1.23 billion), against the average analyst expectation for 1.008 billion in a Reuters poll.

It said it expected an increase to 1.08 to 1.11 billion euros for 2018. The average analyst forecast for 2018 in the poll was 1.13 billion euros.

Reporting by Victoria Bryan; Editing by Maria Sheahan