Ryanair announced plans on Thursday to open a base at Duesseldorf's main airport in its latest expansion into its key target market of Germany in the wake of the collapse of rival Air Berlin.
The Irish airline, Europe's largest low-cost carrier, said it will base one aircraft at the Duesseldorf Airport from June to service routes to Spain.
Tickets for 12 routes from the same airport operated by Laudamotion, a new airline formed from Air Berlin subsidiary Niki and acquired in March by Ryanair, will also be sold by the Ryanair web site.
The move is the latest challenge by Ryanair to Lufthansa , which last year overtook the Irish carrier as Europe's largest by passenger numbers. Lufthansa’s Eurowings is currently market leader at Duesseldorf.
Germany has been slow to open up to low-cost airlines, which typically account for about 10-20% of traffic at Germany's airports compared to a short-haul market share of over 50% in Europe as a whole.
Ryanair has a 9% market share in Germany compared to 15% across Europe as a whole. It currently flies from Weeze Airport, 70 kms (45 miles) northwest of Duesseldorf. (Reuters)