RYANAIR is reducing the size of its in-flight magazine, serving passengers less ice – and even asking cabin crew to watch their figures – as part of efforts to trim its fuel bill.
With the price of jet fuel rising sharply in recent years, airlines have devised ever more imaginative methods to reduce the weight of their aircraft.
“We cut costs wherever possible, and the changes will represent a significant reduction in weight,” said Stephen McNamara, a spokesman for Ryanair. “We also considered removing armrests, but decided against it. We even encourage staff to watch their weight – with the motivation of appearing in the annual Ryanair calendar.”
It has also been a vocal supporter of an airline "fat tax", under which overweight passengers would be asked to pay more.
“Let’s Go with Ryanair” – the magazine given to all passengers who fly with the no-frills carrier – will now be published on A5 paper, rather than A4. It will also double as an in-flight menu, a move that could reduce its fuel bill by thousands of pounds and cut printing costs by more than €400,800 (£400,000).
Other policies implemented by Ryanair include cutting the amount of ice taken on board a flight, and reducing the weight of trolleys and seats.
Measures taken by other carriers include the removal of magazine racks and rubbish bins and the replacement of glassware in first-class cabins with plastic cups.
In 2008, Air Canada removed life vests from some of its aircraft in favour of lighter floatation devices. Authorities approved the change, so long as it was limited to aircraft which didn’t venture more than 50 miles from the shore.
And in the 1980s, Robert Crandall, the former chief executive of American Airlines, claimed the carrier had made annual savings of $40,000 by removing one olive from every salad served on board its flights.
Despite the rising cost of fuel, Ryanair says it remains committed to its promise not to introduce fuel surcharges - unlike such airlines such as British Airways and Virgin Atlantic. BA currently levies a fuel surcharge of up to £145 on long-haul flights.
“Fuel is an integral part of the fare – you can’t fly passengers anywhere without it,” said Mr McNamara. “We would rather make cost reductions and charge passengers for other services.”
Last week Qantas announced that it would increase its fuel surcharge by between AUS$10 and AUS$30 on its flights from April 12.