Ryanair says German market share push ahead of plan

A Ryanair aircraft is parked at Manchester Airport in Manchester, north-west England, Britain, May 26, 2015. REUTERS/Andrew Yates

BERLIN (Reuters) - Ryanair, Europe’s largest low-cost carrier, is capturing market share quicker than expected in Germany, an executive told Reuters on Friday.

Ryanair, which is expanding routes out of Cologne and Berlin in particular, ended 2015 with a 5 percent share of the German air travel market and expects that to rise to 8-10 percent this year, Kenny Jacobs, chief marketing officer, told Reuters on the sidelines of the ITB travel fair in Berlin.

“Michael has said we’ll get to 20 percent within a five year period but so far we’re ahead of that projection,” he said, referring to Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary.

Ryanair is also not ruling out flying out of Frankfurt in the future, if it could get the right deal, Jacobs said. O’Leary has often said Frankfurt was one of the few airports Ryanair could not fly out of due to high fees and lengthy turnaround times.

“It’s a possibility,” Jacobs said, although he added that Ryanair did not need to fly from Frankfurt or Munich, Germany’s two largest airports, to reach the 20 percent market share target.

In Germany, alongside Berlin and Cologne, Ryanair is targeting smaller airports such as Nuremberg and speaking to businesses in the area such as Adidas and Audi to inform its route decisions, part of a trend for budget carriers to target corporate travel.

Jacobs said while the German market was currently underserved by low-cost carriers, Frankfurt and Munich would eventually have to increase the amount of low-cost flights to reflect growing demand for budget across Europe..

“For a country that gave us (discount supermarket chains) Aldi and Lidl, to have the lowest penetration of low-cost airlines, it’s quite a surprise,” he said.

Reporting by Victoria Bryan and Peter Maushagen; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle