February 14, 2017 / 10:23 AM / 7 months ago

Frankfurt Airport steps up low-cost drive with Wizz Air routes

BERLIN, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Eastern European low-cost carrier Wizz Air on Tuesday said it would start flights from Frankfurt Airport this summer, becoming the latest budget airline to add routes from Germany’s largest airport.

Wizz Air said it would fly to Sofia from May and Budapest from December, taking the number of German airports it flies from to 11.

Low cost carriers have so far not taken major market share at Frankfurt, due to its high costs and long turnaround times.

But airport operator Fraport, seeking to compensate for slower passenger number growth at main customer Lufthansa, last year signed up Ryanair, which had previously ruled out routes from Frankfurt.

“The decision by Wizz Air also underscores the growing importance of Frankfurt for the low-cost market,” Fraport sales executive Winfried Hartmann said in a statement.

Lufthansa, which called for Fraport to lower fees after the Ryanair deal was announced, said this month it was looking at low-cost flying out of Frankfurt using its Eurowings budget brand.

While other low-cost carriers expand in Germany, Transavia, a unit of Air France-KLM, said Monday it would no longer base aircraft at Munich after this summer, saying it was uncertain whether it could make a profit.

Air France-KLM had wanted to grow Transavia into a pan-European carrier but after strikes by Air France pilots, it said in November that Transavia would focus on its home markets of the Netherlands and France. (Reporting by Victoria Bryan; Editing by Maria Sheahan)

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