The Irish low-cost airline Ryanair’s Board of Directors, has just approved a project to open long-haul routes between Europe and the United States ; a dozen according to our information. The announced loss-leader price of 14 euros one way, is a long held American dream for CEO Michael O'Leary, who has talked about it since the 2000’s, and well known for making regular buzz-creating announcements. Remember the onboard toilets he wanted us to pay for ?
If however, the project does come to fruition, it will not be for at least another four or five years ; the time needed to acquire the necessary long-haul aircraft, since Ryanair’s present medium-haul fleet is composed exclusively of Boeing 737’s. Although discussions are underway with the aircraft manufacturers, these long-haul aircraft will not bear the colours of Ryanair, but that of a subsidiary specially created for the operation.
Not all tickets will be low-cost. On these flights, at least half the passengers will pay higher fares, with only a few tickets being available at 14 euros ; how many, Ryanair has so far not said.
Emmanuel Combe - Specialist of low cost airlines
‘‘First it's great publicity stunt: announcing a price at 14 euros necessarily creates a 'buzz,' because they are really undercutting prices, that’s the least we can say, but I think that one day there will be a low-cost long haul. In air travel, never say anything’s impossible.
For me there is a window of opportunity, because there are a number of technological levers, such as relatively efficient aircraft - ‘Ah ! Yes’, you will say, ‘that’s also true for their competitors’ - except that the major competitors don’t have the money. Secondly, the economy clientele is quite sensitive to low prices, so the company will carry people who don’t normally fly or who fly less, and above all, they will play the magic Charge for Extra Options card.’’
Ryanair is not the first company to try a low-cost long haul operation. The latest one is the Norwegian company that, since July 2014, has had daily flights between Europe, the United States, and Thailand for an average price of 250 euros, as against 600 euros, on average, for regular companies. Even though they recorded a loss of more than 100 million euros last year, it could be considered a success, since the company claims that they have a flight fill rate of 90%.