BERLIN, March 31 Lufthansa's Eurowings
is stepping up expansion at Munich airport in response to strong
demand for low-cost flights, with plans to base two more planes
there from 2018.
Eurowings started flying from Munich, a hub for Lufthansa's
core brand, on Friday and the unit's CEO said demand had
significantly exceeded expectations. The carrier will therefore
base six A320 jets there in 2018, up from four this year.
"We're as good as sold out over Easter and anyone wanting to
book for the summer should hurry," Karl Ulrich Garnadt said in a
Low cost carriers have been slow to gain a foothold in
Germany and currently account for about 15 percent of the
market, against 50 percent for Europe as a whole.
While Eurowings, which also includes the Germanwings brand,
is the largest low cost carrier in Germany, Ryanair ,
easyJet, and Wizz Air have been growing
strongly in the last couple of years.
Ryanair has stepped up the battle by starting flights from
Frankfurt, Lufthansa's main hub, leading the German flagship
carrier to demand concessions from airport operator Fraport
Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr said at an event on Thursday he
was hopeful that a deal could be reached with Fraport on a
reduction in fees, adding there was still no decision on whether
to start Eurowings flights from Frankfurt.
He also said Eurowings would eventually need more than 7
long-haul planes amid a rush by traditional rivals to also
expand budget long-haul routes to compete with newcomers such as
Norwegian Air Shuttle.
British Airways and Iberia owner IAG this month
unveiled plans for a new low-cost long-haul business called
Level that will fly out of Barcelona from June 2017 and Air
France also wants to start a new low-cost division on long-haul
There are no plans to start long-haul flights from Munich, a
spokesman for Eurowings said on Friday.
(Reporting by Victoria Bryan; editing by Alexander Smith)