We have predicted that it was only a matter of time and aircraft before Ryanair committed itself to transatlantic service. Now, just in time for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, Ryanair has made its intentions clear.
The world’s largest airline by international passengers carried, has said it will offer fares as low as £10 to fly across the pond.
“The board of Ryanair, like any PLC, have approved the business plans for future growth, including transatlantic. We are talking to manufacturers about long-haul aircraft but can’t comment further on this. European consumers want lower cost travel to the USA and the same for Americans coming to Europe. We see it as a logical development in the European market,” A Ryanair spokesperson tells Skift. “We would like to offer low cost flights between 12-14 European cities and 12-14 US cities. The business plan is there but it’s dependent on attaining viable long haul aircraft and we estimate that’s four to five years away.”
This announcement comes just as legacy North American airlines, and some of their European counterparts, fight a difficult battle to prove that the growth of Gulf carriers is the result of an unfair and uncompetitive exploitation of existing Open Skies agreements, and as North American carriers continue to struggle to hold back the growth of Norwegian by questioning the legitimacy of it’s Irish-based Norwegian Air International whose own Open Skies application is yet to be approved. It also follows a series of announcements by Ryanair of new routes, technology improvements, improved service, and refreshed cabin products, including the reveal of new cabin interiors for its fleet.
The Top Route
The transatlantic market is the jewel of the aviation industry, representing 14.3% of all premium traffic and 22.9% of all premium revenues, 16.4% of total traffic and 55.4% of total revenue, the largest of all international routes as reported by IATA this December.
It is therefore no surprise that airlines will vie to defend this valuable connection, but it is equally unsurprising that it would be an attractive route for low-cost carriers. For destinations at either end of the pond, the introduction of low-cost service would be a positive development. These airlines have made travel more affordable and accessible to consumers, which has encouraged travel to destinations these consumers could never afford to visit before.
Key to the LCC model of Ryanair is the use of second-tier airports and while that often involves landing far from the nearest capital it also entails a terminal experience which is easier for passengers to navigate than the large hubs. The efficiency of a single fleet configuration is also integral to the airline’s long-term profitability and the need to incorporate a second aircraft type will require careful planning by Ryanair to ensure that the advantage of common parts and common maintenance are not lost. These are factors Ryanair will review, and Ryanair’s previous announcement that it is considering the launch second-brand hints that the airline is careful to ensure common product management for each independent operating model.