Ryanair claims new route could save taxpayers €3m
Ryanair has claimed the Government could save €3m a year if officials choose to fly with the airline between Dublin and Brussels' main airport.
The airline also revealed that when it launches its new business fare products next week, it will offer a premium seating option and other "goodies" to corporate travellers.
Ryanair will begin a new route from Dublin to Brussels Zaventem airport, the city's main airport, on October 26, flying three times a day between the capitals.
Only Aer Lingus currently operates between Dublin and Zaventem, while Ryanair flies from Dublin to Brussels Charleroi.
Zaventem is only about 11km from the centre of Brussels, while Charleroi is almost 50km away.
Ryanair has previously tried to persuade government mandarins that they should fly with it to Charleroi to save the taxpayer money. But the distance of Charleroi to downtown Brussels effectively ruled it out as an alternative to Zaventem.
"I expect we'll see a lot more government bookings on the Zaventem service," said Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary.
"We all heard the alleged stories of MEPs who pick up their expenses early on a Thursday morning (in Brussels) and make it back to Ireland," he said. "Well, we'll now have a midday return on Thursdays which will be chock full of our hard-working MEPs. I expect to see them all on Ryanair."
Ryanair said it would significantly undercut the fares currently being charged by Aer Lingus on the Dublin-Brussels Zaventem route, and claimed that Irish businesses could also save €7m a year by using it to fly between the two cities.
It's launching the new route to capture more of the business passenger segment across its network. That means it has to service more of Europe's main airports with high frequency timetables.
Ryanair also said that it will operate nine new routes from Dublin during the coming winter - some of which already operate during the summer.
Those services include flights to Nice, Lisbon, Prague, Nice, Marrakesh, Bucharest, Cologne, Glasgow and Basel, as well as the new Brussels service.
Mr O'Leary said Ryanair will continue to operate one flight a day from Dublin to Brussels Charleroi. For the winter period, it will also increase frequencies on services from Dublin to cities including London Gatwick, Warsaw, Faro, Malta, Berlin and Madrid.
Mr O'Leary also said that he didn't believe any fresh volcanic eruption in Iceland would have the kind of impact that a 2010 eruption saw, with airspace across northern Europe closed for days. Scientists believe a new eruption in Iceland is imminent.
"The authorities will have much more accurate data this time," he said.