AIR passengers hoping for cheaper fares to the US have been dealt a blow after Ryanair signalled it will not be entering the transatlantic market.
Less than a week after signing a €11.7bn deal with Boeing to deliver 175 new aircraft to its fleet, Ryanair has ruled out flights to North America.
The company's deputy chief executive, Michael Cawley, said Ryanair's business model was not suited to the long-haul market.
"I don't think it is ever envisaged that Ryanair would get into the long-haul market," he said.
"Long haul for us is flying to the Canaries or to Greece at the moment. Some of our flights are four and five hours. From Prestwick to the Canaries, it is five hours.
"As far as flying across the Atlantic is concerned, a lot of the things we do, like 25 minute turnarounds, are not that relevant in the context that you are not going to get an extra flight like you will from Shannon to London if you do it often enough during the day," Mr Cawley said.
"We just signed up a deal (with Boeing) which is going to keep us busy for the next six or seven years growing in Europe.
"If an opportunity came along and if long-haul aircraft prices declined dramatically, it might be possible to get into the business then, but there is no imminent prospect of that," Mr Cawley said.
In June, Ryanair will begin a new summer route from Shannon Airport to Alicante.
While the deal remains confidential, it is understood that the airport charges offered to Ryanair at the independently managed Shannon Airport on the route are more attractive than what was offered when the airport was managed by the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA).
This is the fifth new route at the airport and follows new services to Faro and Glasgow, as well as Chicago and Philadelphia.
Shannon Airport chairperson Rose Hynes said their new relationship with Ryanair was very welcome. "We said we will grow passenger numbers and that is what we are doing," Ms Hynes said.
She added that the airport is in discussions with a range of airlines with a view to bringing current passenger figures, of 1.4m last year, to 2.5m within three to five years.
"We are concentrating on all markets. We are also in discussions for new routes starting in 2014," she said.