Ryanair Scraps Its Frankfurt Base As Airport Charges Rise

Ryanair today revealed that it would be closing its five aircraft base at Frankfurt Airport on March 31st. The airline criticized increased fees being implemented at the airport for its decision to back out of the base. The Ryanair story at Frankfurt has been ongoing for several years now. The airline replaced “Frankfurt”-Hahn with the main Frankfurt Airport based on time-limited reduced incentive charges offered when it first arrived.

Ryanair, Frankfurt Base, Closure
Ryanair will close its Frankfurt base on March 31st. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

Low-cost airlines need to maintain their overheads as low as possible. Airport changes are a significant outgoing for airlines, and are the reason such carriers traditionally avoid primary airports. Some larger airports have been keen to attract LCCs in recent years, given how much traffic they now carry.

Ryanair quits Frankfurt

Today Ryanair revealed that it would be closing its base at Frankfurt’s main airport on March 31st. Announcing the decision, the LCC criticized the airport for putting up handling charges instead of “incentivizing traffic recovery.”

Ryanair has notified its Frankfurt crew of the decision to close the base and has said that they will be offered positions elsewhere within the Ryanair Group. The five Malta Air Boeing 737s currently based in Frankfurt will be redistributed around the Ryanair network as the airline expands elsewhere. This will allow the airline to expand to other bases. While no aircraft will be based in Frankfurt, flying to Frankfurt from other bases would still be possible.

Ryanair, Frankfurt Base, Closure
The airline will relocate aircraft and staff elsewhere in Germany. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

Commenting on the decision, Ryanair’s Director of Commercial, Jason McGuinness, remarked,

“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.”

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Frankfurt defends its prices

Frankfurt Airport initially attracted a handful of low-cost carriers by offering time-limited discounts for new airlines. According to the local publication Hessenschau, Frankfurt Airport “waived 40-50% of the fees due in the first year for the new low-cost airlines.” The incentives offered would gradually be reduced over the next three years as the routes became established and started making money.

Both Wizz Air and easyJet pulled out of Frankfurt before the discounts ended, but Ryanair had chosen to remain. In early 2020, Michael O’Leary told Simple Flying that “We have no plans to pull out of Frankfurt.” Of course, this was before the worst of the pandemic.

Ryanair, Ghost Flights, COVID-19
Ryanair could still fly to Frankfurt from other bases. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

Frankfurt Airport responded to Ryanair’s claims that it should be incentivizing travel’s recovery by saying,

“For 2022, we have adjusted our airport charges for the first time since 2017. As a result, charges were raised by four percent. This increase, however, only serves to counterbalance Germany’s current inflation rate.”

The airport added,

“Other major hubs in Europe have also increased their airport charges, some in the double-digit percentage range. Based on our moderate increase, airlines will be able to continue growing at FRA – benefiting from our position as one of the world’s most important aviation hubs.”

Do you think Ryanair is right to pull out of Frankfurt, or is the airport right to be raising charges? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!