O'Leary vows to 'blow away' rivals in shift to city airports
RYANAIR is set to move to more central airports across Europe as it looks to attract more business travellers. The airline is looking at moving away from low-cost airports well outside cities to capitalise on the higher fares business customers would be willing to pay.
The low-cost carrier has gained much of its growth in recent years from sourcing airports with cheaper or no landing fees that allow a quick turnaround. Many of these airports, such as Brussels-Charleroi or Paris-Beauvais, are dozens of miles outside the cities they serve.
Ryanair chief Michael O'Leary says the airline is looking at opening routes to all of Europe's major hubs, except for London-Heathrow, Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Frankfurt am Main.
Speaking to Bloomberg News, Mr O'Leary said Ryanair was talking to "almost any airport that we don't fly to" as growth in its current model flattens during the downturn.
"At the moment it's all about price, price, price, but as you slow down the growth rate you're doing less discounting to fill seats," he said.
"Your focus is more on 'most-on-time airline in Europe', the fewest bags lost, brand-new aircraft, all-leather seating -- the carey-sharey stuff," he added.
Fares will not be jumping in the short term, according to the airline head. Instead, it will be a more gradual increase.
"It'll be an evolutionary process," he said. "When fares aren't being reduced every year in 2013, 2014, 2015 there'll be more of a focus on quality, service, customer satisfaction and all that, because the prices will be rising. But are we suddenly going to go from an average fare of €34 to €100? No!"
EasyJet already flies to most central airports on the continent, but Mr O'Leary said that his airline could "blow them out of it".