Ryanair

Ryanair goes further upmarket with Business-only 737 charter service

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In the past 20 months, Ryanair has been busy upgrading its products and services, stepping up its digital innovation activities, as well as opening routes to main airport hubs in an effort to appeal more to business travellers.

Now, in a surprise move, Ryanair has taken its drive upmarket to a whole new level by launching a corporate jet service, using a customized Boeing 737-700 which is available for corporate or group hire.

The B737-700 features 60 reclining leather Business Class-style configured in 15 rows in a 2-2 with a 48-inch seat pitch and include “fine dining catering facilities.” The Business-only 737 will be staffed by Ryanair pilots and cabin crew and has a range of up to six hours, making it “ideal for private corporate, sports team or group travel”, Ryanair said. Ryanair’s standard B737-800 aircraft feature 189 seats in a 3-3 layout.

The Irish low cost airline says it has been attracting more business people since overhauling its model in the wake of two profit warnings in 2013. As it already caters for around 25 million business travellers per year and has now set up a dedicated corporate jet team at its home base in Dublin.

A spokesman said the plane can be hired by the hour, with the “competitive” rate depending on the arrival and departure airports. According to The Guardian, a 60 seater private jet from London to Geneva would cost about £33,000 – or £550 a head – for a return trip.

Carol Cork, sales and marketing director at private jet hire firm PrivateFly, told The Guardian that Ryanair had got the timing right, with the Euro football championship in the summer coming up. Asked if Ryanair would accept bookings from stag and hen parties, a spokesperson said the carrier was “happy to provide quotes for any groups.”

While, Ryanair is the first low-cost carrier to launch a corporate jet charter, airlines such as Korean Air (16 or 28-seat 737 Business Jet), Emirates (19-seat A319 Executive Jet) and Qatar Airways (40-seat A319 Premium One) offer similar charter services using a Boeing 737 or an A320 family aircraft, although these feature a more ‘uber-premium’ cabin.

Ryanair and Samsonite offer ‘guaranteed’ carry on bag

In the U.S, most major airlines (with the exception of Southwest and Jetblue) now charge passengers to check their luggage. This has led to an increase in the size and amount of carry on luggage that passengers take on board, which in turn has caused issues with available space in the overhead bins. Airlines such as American Airlines have responded to this by introducing early boarding fees, allowing passengers to board early so they can store their luggage, while low-cost airline Spirit Airlines has even introduced a fee of USD20 to USD40 to take hand baggage on board.

In Europe, meanwhile, Latvian-based airBaltic recently introduced its so-called ‘airBalticBag’, an airBaltic-branded Samsonite suitcase which for EUR169/181 (depending on size) can be carried as free checked luggage on an unlimited number of airBaltic flights for a year. AirBaltic normally charges passengers in Economy a fee of EUR20 to 30 per checked bag one way.

Ryanair
On a similar note, Ryanair has teamed up with Samsonite to offer a hard-shell carry-on bag which is guaranteed to meet the airline’s carry-on luggage weight and size restrictions. Each Ryanair passenger (excluding infants) is permitted to carry one piece of cabin baggage on board free of charge, which should weigh no more than 10kg and not exceed the maximum dimensions of 55cm x 40cm x 20cm.
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Internet kiosk operator extends service to help out forgetful Ryanair passengers

Last October, ultra-low cost carrier Ryanair closed all its airport check-in deks as part of its relentless drive to cut cost. The carrier now only operates bag drop desks at airports and offers no mobile check-in (yet). Ryanair passengers are required to check-in online and print their boarding pass at home before they arrive for their flight. Passengers who have forgotten to print (or have lost) their boarding pass, are charged a steep EUR40/USD57 penalty (GBP40/USD65 in the UK) when Ryanair has to print it for them at the airport

Ryanair says the purpose of the charge is to make sure passengers print out their boarding cards at home, and that the vast majority of passengers does print out their own cards. However, Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary recently suggested that the charge even could be more than doubled to EUR100/USD144: “You really now must check in before you get to the airport. If you don’t, the fine is EUR40 and if that doesn’t get rid of them all within a very short order, we double that fine to EUR100. We don’t want people showing up without the pre-printed boarding card.”
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