Britain’s EasyJet is gearing up to break Lufthansa’s short-lived monopoly on domestic German flights.
The budget airline will spend around €40 million ($47 million) acquiring the 25 Air Berlin planes that weren’t scooped up by Lufthansa when the German carrier bought up the bulk of its bankrupt rival in October. EasyJet announced today that will move from its current home in Berlin’s Schönefeld Airport to the city’s other hub at Tegel.
It plans to operate around 250 flights a week from there, servicing domestic routes to Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, and Munich starting in early January. EasyJet will also fly to 15 international destinations from Tegel. The airline will make a play for business travelers too, with early-morning flights.
While the announcement means fresh competition for Lufthansa, it may also ease the capacity pressure on the airline, which has been struggling to handle domestic demand. The 80 Air Berlin planes it bought are grounded until the takeover gets competition approval, and it has had to put a 747 on the Berlin-Frankfurt route to increase capacity.
It’s going to be good news for passengers: The lack of options—there has been just a choice of Lufthansa or Lufthansa-owned Eurowings—has driven up ticket prices. Air Berlin’s former workers will be happy too—EasyJet intends to employ around 1,000 of them.
The British carrier said it’s set become the biggest airline based in the German capital based on seat capacity. The European Commission still has to approve the EasyJet takeover, but that’s not expected to be an issue.