The Irish airline Ryanair warns of more expensive flights in the capital region if the fees at Willy Brandt Airport in Schönefeld are not reduced. This emerges from a statement from the airline’s headquarters in response to a query from the Tagesspiegel about further action by Ryanair at the location after Easyjet’s announced partial withdrawal.
This exacerbates the already tense financial situation of the airport, which is dependent on 1.7 billion in aid from its owners Berlin, Brandenburg and the federal government.
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“The German government and Berlin-Brandenburg Airport should act now to create competitive airport charges and prevent a further decrease in competition, less choice and higher fares for the people of Berlin, as evidenced by EasyJet’s partial withdrawal,” Ryanair said.
The low-cost carrier claims to have reduced its presence here from 13 aircraft in Schönefeld and Berlin-Tegel before the pandemic and before the opening of BER to nine aircraft now.
This lower presence is due to the 50 percent increase in airport charges, “which was foreseeable, but not to the extent that traffic has collapsed.”
And: “The lack of growth incentives in Berlin is in stark contrast to the other German airports where Ryanair operates”. There, “non-discriminatory incentive systems have been introduced to encourage the recovery of transport, the local economy and the jobs lost to the pandemic.”
For cost reasons in Germany – BER is already an exception – Ryanair is almost exclusively represented at smaller airports, such as Bremen, Stuttgart-Memmingen, Hamburg, Düsseldorf or Dresden. At the beginning of 2022, Ryanair withdrew from Frankfurt am Main due to excessive fees and opened a new base in Nuremberg. In Brandenburg, too, the Irish once tried to be allowed to fly to Neuhardenberg, which failed due to the government veto and the reference to the single airport concept. The airport company emphasizes that the BER fees are at the level of larger airports, such as Frankfurt am Main or Munich.
However, as Lufthansa hubs and intercontinental airports, these airports also have a different level of revenue than the airport in the capital region, where the strong growth in the last decade before the corona pandemic to 35.6 million passengers (2019) can be attributed primarily to low-cost carriers was.
The development comes as no surprise to experts.
As early as November 2021, the former Cologne airport boss Michael Garvens warned that the dominant role of low-cost airlines would collide with the high BER fees.
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Unlike in the past, the maximum amount of fees is no longer determined by the costs, but by the competition from the average ticket price, Garvens said in an interview with the specialist magazine “Airliner”.
Berlin traditionally has the lowest earnings per ticket sold. If airlines have to put around 50 percent on the table here, “take-off and landing fees, handling, security fees, approach and departure fees for DFS or the air traffic tax”, then that is “no longer sufficient to operate the route economically .”
Garvens predicted that this would ultimately lead to “the airlines drastically cutting their route networks at BER”. Easyjet has not yet announced which routes will be abandoned from Berlin from winter 2022.