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INTERVIEW-Frankfurt airport eyes more low-cost flights - Fraport CEO
October 7, 2016 / 12:41 PM / 10 months ago

INTERVIEW-Frankfurt airport eyes more low-cost flights - Fraport CEO

* Fraport CEO says in talks with low-cost carriers

* Says to present results within next 6 months

* Says would be open to Eurowings, but also others

* Says may offer low-cost carriers temporary incentives (Adds further CEO comments)

By Peter Maushagen and Maria Sheahan

FRANKFURT, Oct 7 (Reuters) - Fraport is in talks to bring more budget flights by carriers such as Ryanair , Easyjet or Lufthansa's Eurowings to Frankfurt airport, the chief executive of operator Fraport said.

Low-cost carriers in the past focused on flights to and from regional airports such as London Stansted or Cologne/Bonn where it was cheaper to operate, but they have been increasingly moving to major hubs to be closer to densely-populated metropolitan areas and legacy carriers' long-haul routes.

"We have been very restrained in that (low-cost) area for a long time. But in the long run we won't be able to escape it," Fraport's CEO Stefan Schulte said in an interview.

"I expect that we will be able to present initial results within the next half year."

Only a few low-cost carriers, including Spain's Vueling and Iceland's Wow Air, offer flights from Frankfurt, accounting for just 4 percent of passengers. That compares with 20 to 30 percent at other major international hubs.

"That shows you what we can expect in Frankfurt in the next five to 10 years," Schulte said.

Adding low-cost flights would ease Fraport's dependence on Lufthansa, which accounts for more than 60 percent of passengers at Frankfurt airport, and offers an opportunity for growth as legacy airlines grapple with competition from budget carriers and Middle East airlines such as Emirates and Etihad.

Schulte would not be drawn on which low-cost carriers could come to Frankfurt but said new budget routes could be an opportunity to add under-represented destinations in Italy or eastern Europe to Frankfurt's flight schedule.

He said he would be open to Lufthansa bringing its no-frills airline Eurowings to the hub. "But we are just as open to other budget carriers," he said.

Fraport may offer budget carriers financial incentives for a limited time to offer new routes from Frankfurt, Schulte said. (Editing by Arno Schuetze and Elaine Hardcastle)

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