Business Irish

Thursday 29 September 2016

Going up in the world: Now Ryanair wants to supply a taste of the millionaire lifestyle

John Mulligan and Peter Flanagan

Published 10/03/2016 | 02:30

For a fee, fliers can play at being Donald Trump (pictured above arriving at Shannon in 2014 on his customised Boeing 757) and experience a serious upgrade from the usual Ryanair experience by hiring a private jet from the airline. Ryanair has customised one of its Boeing 737s to service demand. Photo: Sean Curtin
For a fee, fliers can play at being Donald Trump (pictured above arriving at Shannon in 2014 on his customised Boeing 757) and experience a serious upgrade from the usual Ryanair experience by hiring a private jet from the airline. Ryanair has customised one of its Boeing 737s to service demand. Photo: Sean Curtin

It has happened to us all at some stage. While we stand in the scrum to board a Ryanair flight, we look across the airfield to see a Donald Trump type strolling leisurely to their private jet.

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Within minutes, their plane is airborne, while ours waits miserably in a queue to take off.

Private jets have been a pipedream for most people but that could be about to change after Ryanair revealed plans to launch what it calls a corporate jet charter service.

The jet may not be quite in the class of a Gulfstream or Learjet, but it is a world apart from a cramped yellow and blue seat that does not recline.

The airline has kitted out one of its Boeing 737 aircraft with reclining, business class seats upholstered in leather, making the aircraft available for private charter services.

The model being used is a 737-700. That aircraft usually holds close to 150 passengers, Instead, the Ryanair service - which will have Ryanair pilots and crew - will have capacity for 60 passengers who will have around four feet of legroom between them and the seat in front.

Who could ever have imagined this three years ago? The airline, headed by Michael O'Leary, is pitching the service at corporate clients, or groups such as teams heading off to sporting events. Euro 2016 anyone?

Ryanair spokesman Robin Kiely said the Boeing 737-700 is fully customised, and can handle a flight duration of up to six hours. Fine dining catering facilities are also available. More than likely there will still be someone who just wants a ham sandwich, though.

"We're talking with a lot of corporates about flying with Ryanair and this is an extension of that," said Mr Kiely. "It's a great option to have, particularly in the summer when demand for charters is high but our aircraft are all busy."

Other jets could be converted given enough demand, he added.

The jet is available to hire on a cost per hour basis, with quotes dependent on the departure and arrival airports, and we offer the most competitive rate in Europe, Ryanair said.

While no price has been given, it is believed that it will cost more than €10,000 an hour to hire.

It's all a far cry from a few years ago when Ryanair almost seemed to revel in its notorious reputation.

Mr O'Leary has never seemed to worry about customer service in the past.

"People say the customer is always right, but you know what - they're not," he has said previously. "Sometimes they are wrong and they need to be told so." Something tells us passengers on the new business service will not be bombarded quite as much.

The days of the old Ryanair are increasingly a thing of the past.

The company has being going out of its way to improve its customer service over the past two years, Investors have liked Ryanair's renewed focus on the customer, sending the airline's share price soaring over the past two years.

Irish Independent

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