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There are two airline industry news stories about Irish LCC Ryanair floating around this week, and we'll leave you to decide the precise degree to which they're related. We're specifying "airline industry" stories, in contrast to just Ryanair stories "in general," to emphasize that these are different from the fake "no frills" PR branding nonsense that Ryanair endlessly pushes into the travel journalism newsstream (e.g. this near self-parody of a CNN story headlined "Ryanair's 5 'cheapest' money-saving schemes"). These are actual news stories, as much as is possible with these guys.
First up, Ryanair's the-customer-is-always-wrong CEO Michael O'Leary just announced a massive expansion of the airline. Ryanair will reportedly purchase over 200 new airplanes from US, Chinese and Russian plane manufacturers, a total that would easily make the airline one of the world's largest. O'Leary is promising that the planes will come at "cheap prices."
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We have to imagine there's some kind of countdown timer in the offices of Irish LCC Ryanair. The clock ticks down second by second, and when the buzzer goes off it's time for the airline's customers-are-there-for-abusing CEO Michael O'Leary to say something outrageous about airline fees or peeing or airline fees for peeing. That way Ryanair can solidify its "no frills" branding, before turning around andper a BBC expose"duping customers with hidden fees." Marketing is magic.
Apparently the publicity timer recently hit zero, because O'Leary just gave this grating interview to The Independent. His new proposal is to remove two of the three toilets in every Ryanair Boeing 737-800, and to use the resulting space to install a total of six new seats.
That would allow the airline to stuff 195 passengers into every flight, instead of the 189 to which they're currently limited, and so they claim they're asking Boeing to sign off on the safety issues. Like so many other Ryanair brainstorms, we doubt this will go anywhere.
Listen here, Michael O'Leary, CEO of Ryanair, when you recently talked with the Wall Street Journal about your vision and your ideas for the future of low-cost airlines, you sounded both crazy and wise. And you know who typically sounds crazywise? Prophets. We're definitely not about to bow down to you, but you might have something there when you talk about in-flight paying-to-pee and standing room-only; you did after all begin the charging for checked bags thing before most others, and now it's almost standard, and on legacy carriers.
Still, you are one crazy businessman. Especially when you say things like this:
Could this contraption await you on your next Ryanair flight?
Has Michael O’Leary realized he’s gone too far? There we were thinking that by abolishing check in queues, Ryanair had gone just about as far as it could in its quest to be the most measly airline ever.
But then CEO Michael O’Leary went on TV this morning and announced that the airline was considering charging passengers to use the toilet on its planes. He told the BBC:
One thing we have looked at in the past and are looking at again is the possibility of maybe putting a coin slot on the toilet door so that people might actually have to spend a pound ($1.43) to spend a penny in future
Ryanair still hasn't decided if and when it'll start offering those super-cheap transatlantic fares, but the carrier just announced that it made $275 million in profit over the first half of 2008. Though that number was way down compared to last year's haul, Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary was confident enough in his own carrier to say it would outlast the five or six more European airlines he thinks will go bust before Christmas.
He also added that Europe "needed a recession" and predicted that by the end of it the Continent would have just four airlines: British Airways, Lufthansa, Air France and, obviously, Ryanair.
It'd be easy to write this off as the bloviating of a large-than-life CEO--but Ryanair's accountants also signed off on zingers like these:
In the UK we continue to call for the removal of Mr. Harry Bush, the hopeless CAA regulator, as well as the sale of Stansted by the BAA monopoly. Mr. Bush has rubber stamped almost all of the BAA’s cost increases and [capital expenditure] proposals including their crazy plan to waste £4bn on Terminal 2 despite the unanimous opposition of all Stansted airline users to this gold plated Taj Mahal.
After getting slammed like this, Bush might want to sign onto the Facebook group "Ryanair: A Love/Hate Relationship."
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Whether we believe him or not, Michael O'Leary did indeed say that he'd start flying passengers across the Atlantic for less than $20 by 2011, thanks to a global financial crisis that's sure to crush the airline industry.
How likely is it really that we'll be flying across the pond on Ryanair 2.0 for 10 quid? Who knows. But our pals on Twitter certainly had some opinions on the possibility.
· "If that happens I will run through Times Square naked" [Twitter]
· "I'd stomach the whole interior of a plane wrapped with ads & $20 Cokes for that price." [Twitter]
· "Really? I'll believe it when I fly it." [Twitter]
· Ryanair CEO Promising $18 Transatlantic Airfare by 2011 [Jaunted]
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The beds-and-blowjobs airline that Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary promised earlier this year may actually happen. We're talking £10 ($18) transatlantic airfares if and when the new flights start in as few as two-and-a-half years.
Ryanair will start letting passengers make in-flight cell phone calls on some flights in the next couple weeks, and the carrier will charge about £2 ($3.50) a minute for the privilege.
Worried about having to hear stupid conversations? "Stop whining!" says CEO Michael O'Leary:
If you want a quiet flight, use another airline. Ryanair is noisy, full and we are always trying to sell you something.
Such refreshing honesty from an airline!