Ireland-based low-cost carrier (LCC) Ryanair will trial flight transfers this summer as it moves another step closer to mainstream airline practices.
For years, Ryanair has been a strictly point-to-point carrier, going so far in years past as to actively warn prospective passengers against trying to make connections between two of its flights at major hubs, such as London Stansted.
As part of its move toward legacy airline standards in the area of customer relations, however, the airline has said it will test a transfer service at London Stansted and Barcelona’s El Prat airports this summer.
Stansted is Ryanair’s largest hub outside its Dublin home; it makes up more than 70% of the 20-million passenger throughput at the airport, some 30 miles northeast of the UK capital.
The trial “will allow customers to connect onto Ryanair flights without having to go back through security,” the airline said in a statement. A spokesman told ATW that the duration of the trial was not yet settled “as details are being finalized, but it’s for the summer months.”
The carrier has always fought shy of allowing transfer flights, concerned at the additional risk of ensuring baggage is transferred and the problems that arise if an incoming flight is delayed.
The airline added that, if the trial is successful, it would “consider rolling it out elsewhere across its network.”
Ryanair is also tentatively looking at plans to supply short-haul feeder passengers to other long-haul carriers.
Ryanair’s website says:
Ryanair is what is known as a ‘point-to-point’ airline. This means that we fly directly to our destinations and we do not operate connecting flights.
This means that we cannot transfer passengers or their baggage to other flights, whether those flights are operated by ourselves or by other carriers.
For more information please refer to our Terms and Conditions of carriage here.
Article 17 – point-to-point airline
The budget airline says it is in talks with a number of major carriers, including British Airways, on providing connecting flights to smaller airports
17 Sep 2015Ryanair will provide connecting flights for long-haul airlines including Lufthansa and Air France-KLM within the next 10 years, as Europe’s biggest discount carrier targets tie-ups to expand its network and boost passenger numbers.“The low-fare airlines will be doing most of the feed for the flag carriers,” Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary told Bloomberg in an interview.
While network carriers will continue to service their main hubs, they will turn to low-cost operators to deliver passengers to secondary bases across Europe, Mr O’Leary said, adding: “It’s not going to happen tomorrow, but in five or 10 years time.”
Ryanair is in talks with British Airways owner IAG, Virgin Atlantic, Norwegian Air Shuttle, and Portugal’s TAP about providing feeder traffic in a move that would mark a major shift from its previous strategy.
The Dublin-based carrier has previously eschewed ties to other carriers, suggesting they’d be incompatible with the quick turnaround times central to the low-cost model.
However, the company is now looking to appeal to a broader customer base by sprucing up its service, adding frequencies and targeting primary airports.
“Lufthansa will continue to serve their main Frankfurt and Munich hubs from the 10 or 20 most important European Union cities,” Mr O’Leary said. “But they will say look, we’re losing money serving the next 20 or 30 European cities – why don’t we do a deal with one of the low-cost carriers?”
Ryanair has previously said co-operation with long-haul airlines could begin on some routes as early as the coming winter timetable.
Long-haul partners would be responsible for baggage transfer and dealing with missed connections.
While European airlines have enjoyed lower oil prices, which have boosted returns from strong summer traffic, the industry is likely to struggle as soon as the value of crude starts to rise, Mr O’Leary said.
“Everybody will look good for the next year or two because lower oil prices will make all airlines profitable,” he said.
“There are going to be very significant changes when in two or three years oil goes back up again to $100 or $150 a barrel. That’s when the next crisis for the industry will be.”
In March, the airline had to clarify its stance on whether it was planning transatlantic flights for as little as €10, saying that it had not approved any such decision.
“Even if we wanted to start flying tomorrow, there are no long-haul aircraft available, all the Eastern carriers have mopped up all available capacity for lease the next four five years,” said finance director Neil Sorohan at the time.
Just a few weeks ago Ryanair hiked its full-year profit guidance by a quarter following record late summer bookings, a strong pound and cheap fuel.