Ryanair willing to alter planes for business passengers
Ryanair is willing to consider something that a year ago it would have thought heresy - changing the internal layout of its aircraft to accommodate business passengers.
Such a change would be one of the most radical for the airline in the past two decades, with its current configuration of 189 seats per aircraft finely tuned to extract the optimum profit from its fleet.
But chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs said that the airline is now open to many things it may not have considered a year ago.
He conceded that altering the seat configuration is something that would not necessarily be off limits any more.
"It would be the least preferred option, but we're open to a lot if things," he told the Irish Independent.
He revealed that the airline is also looking at potential trials in London and Madrid where business passengers could temporarily avail of serviced office space as part of their ticket purchase.
That would allow them to have a working base in a city for a couple of hours when there on business. Mr Jacobs said business users had expressed an interest in such an add-on, and that trials could start in the first half of next year.
Ryanair only operates one class on its fleet of 303 aircraft. Yesterday it revealed more details of its new business fares, dubbed Business Plus, but it won't be launching a separate business class.
Mr Jacobs said Ryanair surveyed about 1,000 customers via focus groups held in cities including London, Dublin, Madrid and Manchester, as well as in Germany and Italy, as it developed its business fare offer.
But while Ryanair will offer 'premium' seating to business fare passengers, there are only 45 seats on each aircraft that fit Ryanair's description of premium - seats which offer more leg room or a quick exit from the aircraft.
Mr Jacobs conceded that on some routes at certain times, such as Monday morning from Dublin to Brussels Zaventem or London Stansted, premium seats won't be available for every business fare passenger who's entitled to one.
He said if business fare demand increases on routes such that the lack of such seats becomes an issue, then frequencies could be added.
But he added that altering the internal seating structure of an aircraft to add more premium seats could be considered in situations where there is intense demand for business fares.
"We certainly would look at it," he said, adding that the airline could talk to Boeing about it if it becomes an issue.
Ryanair wants to lure more business passengers, who currently account for about 25pc of its total passengers.
It's launching more flights between primary airports in order to make the airline a more attractive proposition for business travellers.
The airline is spending €7m on an advertising campaign across Europe over the next six weeks that will promote the new business fares.
Ryanair aims to capture about 75pc of all business air travel passengers between Ireland and the UK, and 70pc of all business passengers between Dublin and Brussels Zaventem.