Ryanair revamps its website and admits EasyJet is better
RYANAIR is revamping its website to become more user-friendly as well as opening up ticket sales to travel agents.
The move is a revolution for the airline that pioneered low-cost travel with minimal customer service.
The website revamp was confirmed by the carrier yesterday and will be formally announced at its annual shareholder meeting tomorrow.
Chief executive Michael O'Leary is under pressure to reconsider his model after announcing earlier this month that annual profits may miss targets.
Discussing Ryanair's website earlier this week, he said that the carriers' efforts to block "screen scrapers", which monitor prices to lure clients, have complicated the booking procedure.
He said Ryanair's booking process now compares poorly to that of rival EasyJet.
It is not yet clear whether the revamp will remove the many expensive "add-ons" that passengers must opt out of before they can buy their ticket.
Mr O'Leary also complimented the website of IAG-owned Vueling. "They have been much better on their website," he said.
"They make the booking first. We have to make it easier. We have got to stop making it so difficult."
Mr O'Leary added that he is also prepared to sell tickets via travel agents rather than through methods solely controlled by Ryanair, targeting another area where EasyJet has gained ground with business flyers.
The company may also add a handful of longer distance routes including one to Israel. Routes to Egypt and North Africa are also under consideration, though growth in the next five years will largely focus on western Europe.
Ryanair also remains interested in flying to the US under a new brand – once new wide-body planes are more affordable.
Mr O'Leary also made it clear that he is not interested in an alliance with a long-haul airline, despite a new deal with Stansted in London.
This week the airline secured a 10-year deal with Stansted to double the amount of its passengers travelling through the airport in return for lower costs and more efficient facilities.
But Mr O'Leary said he is not willing to set up routes that funnel passengers from his own network on to long-distance flights operated by other carriers.
"As long as there is something we can do to encourage it that doesn't compromise our handling costs at Stansted we'd be very open," said Mr O'Leary, who in the past has actively discouraged people from making transfer bookings, even between two Ryanair services.
"So, we are approaching it from a very positive point of view. But are we looking for alliances with some long-haul airline? No."