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Travel

Low cost carriers - more connections and lower prices

The time for bargain hunters and frequent fliers in Germany has never been better. There are more cheap flight connections and offers than ever before.

Early 2015 looks set to be a record year for cheap flights in Germany. Low cost carriers covered some 518 connections to and from Germany, which meant they exceeded their prior record of 507 connections, set during the winter 2011 flight schedule, according to the DLR German air and space travel agency's latest "Low Cost Monitor" (LCM) report. It logged 4,800 take-offs per week by low cost carriers in January 2015 - a new record in itself. There was also a marked increase in flight connections within Germany, as well as flights between Germany and Great Britain.

According to DLR statistics, Germanwings - with some 1,800 lift-offs per week and a market share of 38 percent - has managed to push ailing competitor AirBerlin off the top spot. This development also had to do with Germanwings taking over a lot of domestic flight connections outside of the travel hubs of Munich and Frankfurt from its parent group Lufthansa. AirBerlin meanwhile reduced its cheap airfare offer down to 1,700 flights a week.

Until recently there was no real competition in Germany among the low cost carriers - some 87 percent of connections, according to the DLR, are serviced only by cheap flight operators. But that is about to change, partly because major European low cost carrier Ryanair will be increasing competition. For years, the Irish company focused on flights to and from remote airports in the provinces, but now they are increasing their activity in big airport hubs like Berlin, Brussels, Cologne-Bonn and Rome. "On those connections where there is competition, we expect the prices to continue to sink", said Johannes Reichmuth, Director of the Institute of Air Travel and Airport Research within the DLR.

The DLR findings also reveal that the seven biggest budget carriers Germanwings, AirBerlin, Ryanair, Easyjet, Wizz, flybe and Norwegian collectively account for 95 percent of Germany's low-cost flight market.

sc/msh (dpa)