Irish

Friday 1 August 2014

Ryanair teams with Paypal to transform sales

O'Leary makes game-changing move to mobile

Roisin Burke

Published 02/03/2014|02:30

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Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary
Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary
PayPal Ireland boss Louise Phelan. Photo: Jason Clarke Photography.
PayPal Ireland boss Louise Phelan. Photo: Jason Clarke Photography.

INTERNATIONAL transaction giant PayPal is collaborating with Michael O'Leary's Ryanair to make buying flight tickets a matter of a few taps on your mobile – in a move that could completely transform air travel.

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It's the second collaboration with a technology giant for the €10bn-valued airline, which is already working with Google on a radical flight-buying system. Ryanair is working to massively boost its sales as it awaits the arrival of 175 new jets.

The low-cost airline is completely overhauling its spiky image and customer service, as well as introducing new initiatives to make air travel easier and less stressful. These include a new website, business and family-friendly flights, new major airport routes and allocated seating.

Ryanair's share price has rocketed since the new measures were flagged in November, rising close to 35 per cent. Last week, shares grazed an all-time high.

PayPal Ireland boss Louise Phelan is director on the board of Ryanair and discussions have been in train on ways to develop commercial partnerships with the airline.

The two companies are working on a quick and easy way for Ryanair customers to buy flight tickets through PayPal's transaction software for smartphones.

"Paypal is constantly looking at opportunities to improve and innovate and certainly as part of the Ryanair board it's great to be able to talk about what innovative things we are doing, but also to support the growth of Ryanair and look at innovation and new ways to do things," said Ms Phelan, in an interview with the Sunday Independent this week.

Ms Phelan joined the Ryanair board late last year, along with former senior civil servant Julie O'Neill.

"Supporting Michael [Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary] and the team is great experience for me. And it's great that PayPal allows us to do things like this."

Her appointment to the Ryanair board had to be signed off by PayPal owner, Ebay's boss John Donahoe, she said. "This is where we learn and bring new things back, sharing things that give a better customer experience," Ms Phelan said.

The option of buying tickets for Ryanair flights via mobile would be available "very soon", she added.

PayPal already partners with British Airways and several other airlines on systems to pay for flights but this partnership is a new mobile-based innovation.

In January, Mr O'Leary told the Sunday Independent that Ryanair was working with Google on completely transforming how customers search for and buy airline tickets in a partnership that would radically change how people purchase flights. The plans would "blow comparison sites like Skyscanner out of the water", he said. That project is due to go live at the end of this month.

He also predicted that in five years, everyone would be paying for their Ryanair transactions via mobile – for drinks and snacks and upgrades as well as flights.

The airline is revamping its famously clunky and annoying website to make it more consumer friendly, with mobile commerce set to play a huge role in that.

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