| LONDON, April 6
LONDON, April 6 Ryanair will start
offering connecting flights later this month, a senior executive
said on Thursday, marking a break from its traditional
point-to-point model as it looks to appeal to a broader spread
The Irish airline rose to become Europe's largest airline by
passenger numbers by running a bare-bones operation shunning
transfers due to their complexity and the risk they would keep
planes on the ground for too long.
Chief Executive Michael O'Leary dropped his opposition in
2015 and said the airline would look to trial transfers as part
of plans to expand beyond its traditional customer base.
Ryanair will roll out connections, initially between its own
flights, at the end of April at Rome's Fiumicino Airport, Chief
Marketing Officer Kenny Jacobs said on Thursday. This would
allow for example a journey from Dublin to Palermo, Sicily,
which has no direct service, the company said.
"We'll start with Fiumicino, we'll start at the end of
April, then other bases will follow, and this will be something
that will be available across the network," Jacobs said.
"I think that this is going to be a big advantage given our
network, it’ll be a big advantage for Ryanair getting more of
the business travel market in Europe," he added.
Ryanair did not previously offer transfers for a number of
reasons, including concerns that waiting for passengers and bags
from connecting flights could delay take-offs and undermine the
25-minute turnaround that is key part of its business model.
It has also balked at the idea of compensating passengers
for missed connections and taking responsibility for
accommodating those waiting for the next available flight.
“It’s going to be a big deal for us," said Jacobs. "It’s a
big deal for any low-cost airline, but it’s something that
customers absolutely will love. It happens today informally
through customers just doing their own version of
self-connecting ... but this will allow you to do that direct."
Jacobs said the logistics of flight connections had been
worked out, but did not give details. He said integration of IT
systems was the only thing holding it back from offering
connections to other airlines.
In January O'Leary said Ryanair hoped to start offering
connections to long-haul flights from Norwegian Air Shuttle
and Aer Lingus from May, but Jacobs said that
was more likely be from September.
(Writing by Conor Humphries; Editing by David Holmes)