As Europe scrimps, budget airline Ryanair soars
Europeans may be tightening their belts, but they're still flying Ryanair, whose profits were up in the first half of 2012. And the airline is eying expansion in Eastern Europe, Africa, and even the US.
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Dr. O’Higgins stresses some of the challenges of flying transatlantic service for the budget model, which she suggests might only work on shorter routes such as Dublin to New York, and envisages that Ryanair may have to compromise by providing free meals, extra leg room, and scope to bring more luggage.Skip to next paragraph
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But she adds: “It would be interesting to see if they can have success where others have failed. There have been others starting with Laker in the 1970s, and Canadian airline Zoom more recently, but I would say if anyone does succeed it would be Ryanair.”
For now though, talk of transatlantic service remains just that, as well as another handy way for O’Leary to continue attracting headlines.
Expansion east and south?
Much more likely is continued growth in Europe, where Ryanair aims to grow its share of the short-haul air travel market from 12 to 18 percent over the next decade.
Tom Lawton, professor of strategy and international management at the Britain-based Open University business school, suggests that, rather than westwards, the growth is more likely to be eastwards, and possibly southwards.
He says: “Low-cost airlines like Hungary’s Wizz Air have been looking to Russia, for example, and North Africa is also an option. Ryanair already flies to Morocco, although these destinations are outside of the EU and so the regulatory challenges are much higher.”
“Rather than transatlantic flights, it’s more likely that they will just keep doing what they are doing, and perhaps look at new opportunities such as Eastern Europe.”
Ryanair’s major achievement, and one that cannot be ignored, is to inject cost efficiency into the European aviation sector, says Professor Lawton.
Looking ahead, and with the stated aim of carrying 120 million people each year by 2022, Ryanair said in a statement Monday that "further airline failures and consolidations are inevitable given the fragmentation among European airlines and the existence of so many high cost, high fare airlines with poor punctuality records."
With characteristic bluntness, its boss was meanwhile once again batting away the often-voiced suggestion from journalists that it treats its passengers with little respect.
“In Ryanair we care more about passengers more than any other airline,” he told Sky News.
“That's why we give you the lowest fares, brand new aircraft, all leather suits, and on time flights, and that's what passengers really want. They don't want to be delayed in rubbish airports. They want to arrive at the airport, get on the plane and go, and save a bundle of money doing it."