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HAS RYANAIR BOSS FINALLY RUN OUT OF THINGS TO CHARGE FOR?

HAS Michael O'Leary run out of ideas to make money from Ryanair passengers? It's hard to believe, especially seeing as this is the man who once -- with a straight face -- bandied around the idea of charging passengers €1 to use the toilet.

O'Leary's infamous cost-cutting quotes are the stuff of legend.

He once told an interviewer that he'd like to introduce standing room on his flights.

Or when he claimed a second pilot was unnecessary and if any problems developed, he'd be happy to "let the bloody computer fly the plane".

O'Leary knows how to grab the headlines.

But when he says that Ryanair are not going to squeeze any more money from their passengers with new charges until the end of 2013 at least, you have to wonder. Has he finally run out of ideas?



ENTERTAINMENT

The airline has a target that ancillary revenues, as they are called, should be about 20pc of total revenues.

O'Leary says that at the moment it has risen to about 23pc but some of that is because fares have fallen or have not risen as much as ancillary charges.

There is nowhere to go, no new area for new charges.

He said: "We think Wifi will ultimately be the next big move in ancillaries, in-flight entertainment delivered by Wifi.

"The problem is that no system exists at the moment where you have transborder Wifi. When you fly from Ireland into the UK you don't automatically switch, whereas it is relatively straightforward in the United States. We need a European standard."

He says the airline is catching fewer people with outsize bags. Giving the handling agents in airports a percentage of the money they generate for those bags has not increased revenue. O'Leary said: "Every policy that we have is not to generate money, it is to change passenger behaviour.

"The revelatory one was charging for the checked in bags. We went from 81pc of passengers charged for a checked-in bag down nowadays to 25pc.

"Our deal with most of the handling agencies is based on the fact that we don't have a lot of checked in baggage, they don't have to rent extra check-in desks, because 70pc of our passengers will show up with a carry-on bag.

"You can't incentivise anyone to catch anyone. We incentivise people to carry out our policy. We police it heavily.

"If your bag fits in the sizer you are fine. If it does not fit in the sizer you are outsize. You agreed, that is the policy, comply with the policy.

"We would far prefer to get not one cent from boarding card re-issue fees throughout the year because we have 100pc compliance."

He says that that the airline will change the famously illegible security code on its website in the coming months when it moves from Google captcha to another system.

Boarding cards will be available for download to a smartphone in about two years time, meaning that passengers will no longer have to print off their boarding cards at home to avoid a ¤60 ransom when they arrive at the airport without a boarding card.

They won't be reintroducing free food any time soon, despite the fact that Southwest, the airline on which Ryanair models its product, offers free food.

O'Leary explained: "Southwest has lost an awful lot of its mojo. Spiritair is now much more what Southwest was in the States. Southwest have gotten middle aged and fat and happy. They are now much more concerned with being loved.

"Their obsession is being one of the top 10 places to work every year in Forbes magazine, which is normally reserved for IT companies, with 1,000pc margins."

He added: "An airline is a high volume low margin business, that is what we do.

"We are not here for bean bags and pool tables, we have to work hard -- the only way to get this thing done is by giving your customers a big price advantage.

"That is how commoditised travel services work, bus companies, train services, airlines."

Ryanair's main complaint from passengers is the trumpet announcement about their on time arrivals.

He denies the airline cheats its punctuality statistics because they add extra time to their estimated arrival time.

He said: "I wouldn't allow any fluff to be built into the system because I want more flights per day per aircraft. It is based on efficiency.

"There are things which drive me mad. The whole of the Welsh mountains are closed off for the RAF for huge swathes of the day when they do nothing.

"Why can't they bugger off up to Scotland and play their war games up there, which would mean that we can take off and fly straight to London, which is what happens in the evening when the RAF have gone to bed or gone to the pub and our flight times are 15 or 20 minutes shorter."


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