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Austrian plans Vienna fightback

Austrian Airlines has committed to "fighting back" against low-cost rivals at Vienna airport by strengthening its European route network, in particular increasing frequencies to Germany.

The Lufthansa-owned carrier says that from April it will step up flights to Hamburg, Berlin and Dusseldorf from the Austrian capital. In May, Austrian will boost frequencies to Paris and Copenhagen.

Chief commercial officer Andreas Otto says the airline is seeking to offer "a low fare and reliability" to customers, as opposed to the "low fare and programmed trouble" offered by rivals. He cites "the frequent changes in the flight schedule on the part of new competitors".

In reference the airline's promised "sharp drop in airfares", Otto states: "Customers will be pleased, our competitors probably less so.".

Ryanair-owned Laudamotion, IAG budget arm Level and Wizz Air all began operating services from Vienna last year and have disclosed plans to grow their operations there this year. Austrian's sister airline Eurowings also flies from the airport.

Cirium schedules data shows that on the Vienna-Paris route Austrian will be joined by Air France, Level, Transavia France, Laudamotion and Vueling this summer. Austrian, Eurowings and Level all serve Hamburg from Vienna. Austrian competes with EasyJet to Berlin and Eurowings to Dusseldorf, while Laudamotion and Level are rivals on the Copenhagen route.

Austrian says its passengers numbers grew 7% in January 2019, when an additional 60,000 people flew with it. The carrier's passenger numbers grew by 1 million last year.

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