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In a move that was completely unexpected but really should have been expected, Ryanair launched a new “bespoke” private chartered jet service this week.
The new Ryanair private jet offers premium business class seating, and special in-flight service, for groups of up to 60 people which fly within Europe.
It was a shocker and raised some eyebrows among the highbrows.
Who might want to resort to Ryanair for a privately scheduled flight?
As Kenny Jacobs, CMO of Ryanair, explains ‘The Who’ might want to. But it’s more likely to be their fans–along with loads of other people.
“We’ve just launched it..and we had 25 requests in the first day; between sports groups, large businesses–even a few public institutions and governments looking to use the service for a trip,” Jacobs says. “It came from the demand accross Europe for large groups waiting to take their own airplane, and rent one our our airplanes.”
“It shows good flexible sensibility [on Ryanair’s part]. I think there is demand for large groups sports clubs, large wedding parties, and people who say, ‘Wow, imagine renting your own aircraft and having champagne on your way to the wedding in the South of France,’ etc., etc.”
Like everything else Ryanair has done there’s a spirit of democratizing flight behind this project–and not a little bit of vying for attention from the press.
“[If you] live in Chelsea and you have loads of money you might do it using someone like NetJets, but you’re paying an absolute fortune. So I think it’s going to be an interesting version of private jet hire, closer to everyday people who want to have their own tailored bespoke service. But it’s a one-off project. This isn’t a major business plan. We’re not about to say that we’re about to launch ten of these across Europe and make them a separate business stream,” Jacobs says.
For Ryanair it was also an ideal opportunity to mark a special aircraft delivery with a unique marketing spin.
The new 737-700 converted to Business jet service is Ryanair’s 351st aircraft, and the airline has another 350 on order yet to come. One could call it a middle age frolic, except Ryanair is only 30 and has been frolicking all along.
It’s been chartering groups all along too, though not in these relatively lavish conditions.
“We get asked quite a bit by sports teams by businesseses and people who want to rent an aircraft for a specific trip. We do get asked to rent an aircraft, and we do it from time. That’s where it came from. We got our hands on a 737-700 which we thought, ‘This would be quite good, why don’t we kit this out in a different way?'” Jacobs explains.
“We got the 60 luxury Business class seats and we stuck them in there and we got this corporate jet. We won’t always fly the jet as a corporate jet for hire, we can take out the Business class seat and we can put in regular seats,” he adds.
And the aircraft is not wasted waiting for groups when demand varies, as Jacobs explains.
“We can use it as a spare aircraft during peak season in Summer. We’ll also do a bit of that, if it’s not booked,” he says. “It’s not a big deal. We always need additional aircraft–which is a high class problem to have.”
Jacobs is not only satisfied with the product itself, he’s pretty chuffed over the free advertising.
“I thought it was fantastic. I’m thinking ‘Wow! There’s probably at least a $1 million in free media coverage that we just got there,” he says. “It kind of puts Ryanair in the headlines for Business travelers. That’s great because they’re going to come and they’re going to check out this service. They’re going to check out other things. I think it’s a really good example of using earned media effectively.”
In practical terms, though this isn’t merely another Ryanair publicity stunt. Well, not entirely.
“It’s going to be a nice margin-enhancing corporate service,” Jacobs says. “This is a one off. It’s aircraft number 351 and 350 don’t look like this. We’re not about to launch a fleet of these. This is a nice one-off that will become an interesting little project.”
At least it’s a one-off for now, sports fans, public servants, and lovers can say how far the Ryanair Budget Private Jet charter service model will go.
“Look, if it becomes a runaway success, would we consider adding another one? Of course we would,” Jacobs says.