Because of an “unjustified” increase of the fees BER Airport charges airlines, Ryanair will be decreasing its number of routes to Berlin and Brandenburg. According to the airline, those airport fees hurt Germany’s tourism.
Berlin, October 14th, 2022 (The Berlin Spectator) — Michael O’Leary, the CEO of Ryanair Group, appeared in Berlin on Thursday. He slammed BER Airport for its “odd” policy of increasing fees in spite of the fact that the traffic density is decreasing due to the Corona pandemic. Because of those steps, Ryanair announced a closure of its base at Frankfurt Airport months ago. Now, O’Leary is taking the same approach in Brandenburg province.
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Ryanair’s winter schedule for BER Airport in Schönefeld, just outside Berlin, will look very different. Its flights to and from BER will be decreased by 40 percent. Nineteen routes are supposed to be scrapped. The same applies to 230 weekly flights. According to Michael O’Leary, the fees at both Frankfurt Airport and BER Airport are not competitively viable, compared to other European airports.
The increased fees and Lufthansa’s higher fares hurt the recovery of air traffic in Germany and the country’s tourism, Ryanair believes. As a result, there was less competition and less choice for Berliners. According to the Irish airline, Lufthansa is a “subsidies junkie”. When the Corona pandemic hit Europe in 2020, the German government bailed out the German airline by investing 9 billion Euro (8.8 billion U.S. Dollars or 7.8 billion Pounds Sterling). When the Federal Republic sold the shares it had purchased earlier this year, it made a considerable profit.
O’Leary said air traffic in Germany hat decreased by 28 percent in summer because of the elevated airport fees. At the same time, Ryanair had grown. Its traffic volume was at 115 percent compared to pre-Corona times. In Berlin, O’Leary said his company regretted the step it had to take at BER. But relocating flights to other, affordable regions in Germany and Europe was more attractive. Ryanair had no choice. It had to reduce its capacity at expensive airports like BER.
This winter, 41 Ryanair routes to and from BER Airport will be left. It is unclear whether or to what extent this number will be increased in the spring and summer of 2023. Ryanair announced it would continue to offer “winter sun and city trips” from 24.99 Euro (24.43 Dollars or 21.59 Pounds) to and from BER.
In the meantime, BER Airport will finally have direct flights to Dulles Airport in Virginia, the international airport for Washington D.C.. They are being offered by United Airlines. It is a seasonal route which are supposed to be operational from May 26th to October 28th, 2023. In March, United had announced direct flights to Dulles for this year, but scrapped them shortly after, before the first one could take place.