The chief executive of Ryanair has said it is “probably inevitable” that airlines will charge passengers for carry-on bags – though he insisted he had no plans to do so soon.
Michael O’Leary was asked whether Ryanair might follow budget carrier Wizz Air, which last year began charging passengers £9 to place larger cabin bags in the overhead lockers.
“It’s unlikely in the short term but it’s probably inevitable,” said Mr O’Leary. “At some time in the future I think it’s likely that airlines will charge for carry-on bags but I can’t get my head round how you would do it. I think it’s unlikely that we will do it – until I can see what’s in it for us.”
Mr O’Leary believed airlines would try to exploit carry-on bags as a “new revenue stream” but said trying to charge passengers at the boarding gate would disrupt Ryanair’s 25-minute turnaround times.
He also acknowledged that Ryanair had raised its charge for hold luggage by up to €20 euros (£17.50) for the summer period.
Asked what the reason was for that, Mr O’Leary said: “That’s when people bring more bags. We don’t want the bags. We will keep increasing charges until we get rid of [hold] bags.”
He said that since Ryanair introduced charges for hold luggage, the number of passengers checking in bags had dropped from 80pc to 19pc.
“We will never get rid of [hold] bags entirely but I would be disappointed if we don’t get our figure down from around 20pc to 10pc,” he said, adding that “even Mrs O’Leary now travels with fewer pairs of shoes”.
Mr O’Leary also dismissed the Airports Commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies and tasked with deciding where to build new runways in Britain, as an “irrelevance. I don’t think it will come up with anything. The Commission is just a way for [David] Cameron to avoid making any decision on this until after the next election.”
He said the “commonsense decision would be to build new runways at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, where you’d just have to build a runway, not new roads and railway stations. That way you’d also drown out all the Nimbys bleating in their tented villages about why are they building a runway here. They’d be building a runway at all the main London airports.”