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Thursday, 22 November, 2001, 17:27 GMT
Ryanair to open German base
Ryanair plane about to take off
Ryanair: One of the few airlines expanding services
The Irish low-cost airline Ryanair is to open a new European hub at Frankfurt's Hahn airport.

Ryanair will operate more than 30 flights a day from the base to destinations in Britain, Ireland, France, Italy and Norway.

It said the move should create 200 new jobs, and see 1.5 million new passengers pass through the airport.

The airline said its fares massively undercut those on offer from the German carrier Lufthansa.

"Thanks to Ryanair and Frankfurt Hahn Airport, the era of Lufthansa's high fares monopoly in the German market is over," said Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary.

Frankfurt-Hahn, the city's second airport, is about 60 miles west of Frankfurt and has previously been mostly used by air cargo carriers.

Expansion

The move by Ryanair is being seen as an indication of the resilience among low-cost airlines to the trade slump which has affected longer established carriers.

While flag-carrying airlines have been slashing jobs and flights to cut costs, discount operators have trimmed fares to keep passenger numbers up.

Earlier this month Ryanair unveiled a 39% increase in profits for the first half of 2001.

At the time Mr O'Leary said it had "never been easier" for Ryanair to expand into Europe because other airlines were cutting routes.

Forced abroad

The Frankfurt-Hahn airport is Ryanair's second hub on mainland Europe - last year it opened a base at Brussels-Charleroi airport.

The airline also has bases at Dublin, London Stansted and Glasgow.

Mr O'Leary claimed the move into Germany had been forced by the "high costs and abject facilities" at Dublin airport.

Ryanair wants Aer Rianta - the Irish state backed airport operator - to provide better and cheaper facilities for low-cost airlines.

"At a time when Irish tourism is facing collapse... the failure of the Aer Rianta monopoly to provide efficient facilities and lower prices is a national disgrace," Mr O'Leary said.

"Ryanair is the only airline with any plan to make up for the massive loss of traffic and tourism that Ireland is now facing as a result of the downturn in the transatlantic market and cutbacks in Aer Lingus's operations."

The Irish state-owned airline Aer Lingus has been taking desperate measures to avoid collapse.

It has already announced plans to lay off 2,000 workers and has cut its flight operations by a quarter.

In the City, Ryanair shares, which are also listed in Dublin, closed unchanged at 792.5p.

See also:

22 Nov 01 | Business
South Africa buys back flag carrier
05 Nov 01 | Business
Ryanair profits soar
05 Nov 01 | Business
British Airways shares plummet
07 Aug 01 | Business
Ryanair profits soar to new heights
17 Aug 01 | Newsmakers
Ryanair: Flying high
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