Cheap flights get pricier as airlines expand

Budget airlines are expanding their range of routes from Germany but ticket prices are climbing along with them, a report from the German Aeronautics Centre (DLR) revealed on Thursday.

Cheap flights get pricier as airlines expand
Lufthansa's daughter company Germanwings is one of the faster-growing budget airlines in Germany. Photo: DPA

Airlines in the industry's low-cost segment flew 466 routes from Germany last winter – an increase of 43 connections over the same period the previous year.

Budget flights between Germany and Spain were up 28 percent, while connections to Britain increased by 14 percent and to Austria by ten percent, the DLR's "Low Cost Monitor" study found.

While low-cost airlines launched new connections to destinations such as Estonia from Germany, the number of German domestic routes fell by ten percent.

Meanwhile ticket prices have taken a hike, with journeys costing between €70 and €160 in comparison to a range of €60 to €120 the previous year.

"Flying on a budget has got a good deal more expensive," said the DLR report's authors.

Air travel expert and consultant Heinrich Großbongardt told the Rheinische Post newspaper on Thursday that flights cost around five percent more than in spring 2013 and 30 percent more than five years ago.

"The reason is that the budget airlines are no longer coming into contact on the same routes. That has loosened the competition,” he said.

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Despite creeping fares, over 65 million passengers flew with low-cost airlines from German airports in 2013, giving the cheap providers a 32 percent share of the total 203 million passengers.

Air Berlin remains Germany's top budget airline, with its 1,700 flights a week taking up around 42 percent of the country's low-cost market, but Lufthansa's daughter company Germanwings is closing the gap.

Taking over a chunk of Lufthansa's flight plan, Germanwings flew 60 percent more routes over the winter than in the previous year and now run around 1,200 flights per week, the DLR report found.

As a result of Germanwings' expansion, Berlin's Tegel airport, from where Lufthansa runs many of its European flights, has boosted its roster of low-cost flights to 800 a week.

But London Gatwick airport remains Europe's capital for budget flights, launching 7,000 of them a week.

And across Europe Irish firm Ryanair is the biggest budget airline, running 7,500 flights each week and holding a 22 percent stake in the European low-cost market.

SEE ALSO: Berlin airport to 'cost €8 billion and open in 2017'

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