Ryanair is known for its no-frills approach to travel, but has just launched its first business class service.
Budget airline Ryanair has been working hard to shed its no-frills image in the past few years. Now it is following rival carrier easyJet with the launch of its first business class travel service.
This week, Ryanair has launched Business Plus, a flexible ticket option with prices starting from as low as €69.99 (£55.60). It will offer unlimited changes to flights, a 20kg check-in bag allowance – for which standard passengers would pay extra – fast-track through airport security, priority boarding and premium seats.
Business travellers will only be fast-tracked at the eight airports where the service is offered. What’s more premium seats will not be separated off from the rest of the cabin – though the company says they will be located at the front and back of the aircraft so passengers can get on and off quicker. In-flight food and drink is still not included.
However, the service does represent a concerted effort by Ryanair to cater to the growing demand for business travel that doesn’t eat into profit margins.
Kenny Jacobs, chief marketing officer at the carrier, says that more than a quarter of Ryanair’s existing customers are already travelling on business. It makes sense that a more directly business-focused model would help the company to tap into that hugely promising market.
But it also seems to come as Ryanair makes a serious play to be recognised as a bigger force in the air travel industry.
In a huge departure from its previous sales model, which only allowed directly booked flights, the company has announced a partnership with Travelport Global Distribution System (GDS), with a second GDS partner to be announced.
That means businesses booking their flights through travel management companies will be able to book through a third party as they can with other big airlines.
The company is even seeking to broaden its international base. Ryanair has said it will make a non-binding offerfor struggling Cyprus Airways later this week. If it were to go ahead it would only be Ryanair’s second ever acquisition, and the first in more than a decade.
In an interview with the Irish Independent, chief executive Michael O’Leary reiterated plans to develop an “Israeli Ryanair”, using the country as another global hub. For a no-frills carrier, it seems there are few limitations to the airline’s ambition.
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