Ryanair's Italian job would be game-changer
Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary often talked in the past about getting involved in long-haul travel.
But it was always with a couple of caveats: it would depend on buying long-haul jets at knock-down prices, and also that it would not be a business that would be directly operated by Ryanair.
Ryanair chairman David Bonderman flatly ruled out any chance that Ryanair would ever directly be involved in long-haul travel, because he insisted that the low-cost model perfected by Ryanair simply could not be effectively replicated when flying across the Atlantic. Aircraft utilisation wouldn't be high enough, he said, and no matter how cheap the fares, you couldn't typically stimulate someone to fly to New York for a weekend.
Norwegian has forged ahead with its low-cost long-haul model however, enabling no-frills travel across the Atlantic for a couple of hundred euro return if you catch the right deals.
But in its plans to buy Alitalia and keep its long-haul routes, Ryanair would indirectly take on the market. Conceivably, Ryanair jets could help funnel traffic to the Alitalia long-haul service - something Ryanair has been planning to do with other carriers including Norwegian and Aer Lingus.