The chief executive officer of Ryanair has announced that the airline will begin to offer transatlantic flights to New York and Boston starting at 10 Euro per seat once it eventually acquires long-haul aircraft needed for the journey — at least several years away at a minimum.
If the content of the announcement by Michael O’Leary becomes a reality, it will be the first time that Ryanair serves airports in the United States.
Of course — in true Ryanair fashion — you will be expected to pay extra money in the form of ancillary fees for everything from baggage to food. Then again — if the reputation of Ryanair changes for the better as a result of transforming its culture as one way to address customer service issues moving forward by eliminating things which irritate customers — you should hopefully not have to be concerned with paying fees to use the lavatory; being charged a fee for boarding passes; and paying a fee simply for the privilege of booking a flight.
Could you imagine standing room only for passengers on transatlantic flights? Even O’Leary would be sympathetic with passengers — no?!?
Probably not, if those passengers would be willing to pay — say — one Euro to stand across the Atlantic Ocean? That is masochism, in my opinion — but I do not believe we need to worry about that happening even though there are probably customers who would be willing to experience that all for the sake of bragging about traveling from Europe to the United States for one Euro.
Anyway, I digress.
You might remember that members of the Air Line Pilots Association, International were concerned that flights between Gatwick Airport south of London and three destinations located in the United States — to begin as of July of 2014 using Boeing 787 “Dreamliner” aircraft — as announced by Norwegian Air Shuttle this past October would present a threat to the aviation industry in the United States because the airline would be undercutting the airfares of transatlantic flights operated by carriers based in the United States by as much as 50 percent.
A seat in the economy class cabin on a round-trip flight to be operated by Norwegian Air Shuttle to New York will supposedly cost as little as £300.00 — equivalent to approximately $492.00 — including all taxes and fees; whereas a seat in the premium class cabin will supposedly start at £1,200.00 or approximately $1,966.00…
…and yet — despite an initial search via the Internet — I still have yet to find “concern” on the part of the Air Line Pilots Association, International pertaining to the ten Euro airfare for transatlantic flights operated by Ryanair.
Am I missing something here?
Perhaps the Air Line Pilots Association, International is not taking Ryanair seriously. Calling this announcement “vaporware”, FlyerTalk member Centurion is skeptical, posting that “You will not even see 100 euro fare from Ryanair.” After all, this is the same airline whose chief executive officer suggested that the removal of sanitary bags from the fleet of aircraft would be considered and that seat belts could eventually be eliminated — and even going so far as to proclaim that co-pilots are unnecessary…
…or perhaps the airfare of ten Euros will actually cost significantly more to passengers by the time all is said and done with ancillary fees, as intimated by FlyerTalk member mikew99?
FlyerTalk member callum9999 disagrees: “There is no reason to believe that it wouldn’t be available for €10 – it’s exactly how Ryanair works. I’ve had numerous flights with them where I’ve paid less overall than just the taxes would have been. They also quote their sale fares inclusive of all taxes (they will pay them for you) and compulsory fees (i.e. fuel surcharges – which I don’t believe they have at present anyway). There is no need whatsoever to pay to reserve a seat in advance – that’s optional and many (most?) people are happy to be assigned a seat by Ryanair in exchange for a discount.”
Regardless, the issue of foreign airlines undercutting carriers based in the United States is a controversial topic. I doubt that the Air Line Pilots Association, International will find many sympathetic ears amongst FlyerTalk members, who are experiencing the “death by a thousand cuts” — a phrase often used on FlyerTalk — with regard to the perceived devaluations of frequent flier loyalty programs of which they are members.
Revenue and profits are obviously key to airlines. For example, a recent announcement from Delta Air Lines revealed that the SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program will be changed in 2015 to a model based on revenue and not on distance flown by customers…
…but the hugest windfall for many airlines has been the advent of ancillary fees, which have raked in billions of dollars — and because of that, there is no sign of ancillary fees disappearing anytime soon.
Did you know that airlines based in the United States only pay taxes on airfares and not on ancillary fees? I would advocate that that needs to change — but the taxes airlines would be required to pay on the income of ancillary fees would most likely only be passed on to you, the consumer.
Remember that it was not that long ago that airlines based in the United States not only received financial assistance from the federal government — and yet still asked for your help.
Just as airlines should not depend on the federal government for survival when times are bad, the federal government should also not be involved in dictating policies implemented by airlines — such as the reversal of the increase in fees for you to change your flight itinerary.
Airlines cannot have it both ways — though they certainly can try. If airlines wish to be profitable entities, then they should expect competition. There are FlyerTalk members who contend that the decrease in competition in the United States — as a result of the consolidation in domestic commercial aviation — has led to the significant perceived devaluations in frequent flier loyalty programs and an erosion in customer service.
Now threats to some of the international routes operated by legacy carriers are emerging by the likes of low-cost carriers such as Ryanair and Norwegian Air Shuttle. Instead of attempting to implement measures which smack of protectionism, the airlines should prepare themselves to deal with the potential competition by low-cost airlines. Differentiate themselves with service and products which bring more value to customers who wish to pay more. Is this not what legacy carriers want — to attract customers of higher value? Is that not the intention of the overhaul of the SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program by Delta Air Lines?
I do not believe that airlines based in the United States need to be concerned about Norwegian Air Lines and Ryanair. Unless forced to do so by his employer, I cannot imagine a businessman opting for a flight costing ten Euros on Ryanair over a seat in the premium class cabin aboard a legacy airline — but what do I know?!?
Besides — there are service issues pertaining to Norwegian Air Shuttle as reported by FlyerTalk members. For example, FlyerTalk member WNHHTraveler posts: “The biggest issue for me is timeliness as there have been many delays with Norwegian, sometimes the flights not only leaving many hours later, but 2-3 DAYS later! And they will not book you on another carrier in these instances. With a very tight itinerary and only a week to see Norway, any delay more than a few hours will seriously impact me. I’ve got serious buyer’s remorse!”
Now, I am not saying that delays cannot happen with legacy carriers. Consider what I posted only yesterday pertaining to FlyerTalk members being stranded in Mumbai for 43 hours by United Airlines — although at least some of the blame may be placed on the government in India or on Indian officials. However, customers generally expect legacy carriers to give them a return of value on the higher airfare they paid; whereas passengers on low-cost carriers simply depend upon safe basic transportation for less money and therefore may be more forgiving of any anomalies in the products and services offered by low-cost carriers…
…and as long as that differentiation is clear, legacy carriers should not have much of an issue with the advent of low-cost carriers on international routes, which is not an old concept by any means. Remember when PEOPLExpress Airlines offered flights between Newark and London for $149.00 each way back in 1983? I even remember when that airfare was temporarily reduced to only $99.00 each way…
…and although a new iteration of PEOPLExpress had been attempted to be launched again, can we safely say that that airline did not exactly put the legacy carriers out of business?!?
Despite times having changed in the commercial aviation industry over the past 30 years, I really do not believe that Ryanair and Norwegian Air Shuttle will put a significant dent into the business of transatlantic flights as operated by legacy carriers if they are actually successful in overcoming all of the hurdles which stand in their way…
…but then again, I could be wrong. What do you think?