Ryanair is on course to achieve its long-held ambition of offering transatlantic flights to the US – and they could cost as little as £10.
Michael O’Leary, the airline’s chief executive, has mooted the prospect of establishing a discount transatlantic service ever since the creation of Ryanair 30 years ago; yesterday, directors approved such plans, as part of a long-term growth strategy.
Within five years, Ryanair will offer one-way tickets to and from the US for as little as $10 (£6.75), although fares could be closer to £100 on average. Ryanair is understood to be in talks with over a dozen airports across Europe, with some allegedly already keen to carry the service. Destinations could include New York, Boston, Chicago and Miami from London Stansted, Dublin and Berlin.
The transatlantic flight market is one of the most lucrative flightpaths in the world, and is at present dominated by long-standing European and American providers, such as British Airways and American Airlines; although, the success of Virgin Atlantic in recent years perhaps indicates that the sector isn’t wholly cornered.
“European consumers want lower-cost travel to the USA and the same for Americans coming to Europe,” said a spokesperson for Ryanair. “We see it as a logical development in the European market.”
Response to the news was mixed. Gert Zonneveld of Panmure Gordon said a transatlantic Ryanair service would “generate new demand…if you can fly people across the Atlantic for a relatively small sum, a lot of people would fly to and fro for a long weekend.”
“There are a lot of questions, but I think it can happen. They have an incredibly strong record in their short-haul business on costs. From a unit-cost point of view they are they the lowest around.”
John Strickland, independent aviation consultant, cautiously greeted the news. While seeing a gap in the market for a low-cost alternative, “the success of Ryanair’s transatlantic venture will depend on the service attracting a mix of customers – both cost-conscious tourists and business travellers prepared to pay more. That way, you have got a better chance of spreading your risk.”