Irish budget airline Ryanair has said that it hopes to be able to offer customers free air travel within the next five to ten years.
Ryanair’s outspoken CEO Michael O’Leary said that he envisioned the company’s revenue coming from its share in the airport retail revenue and hoped that the only cost for passengers would be the tax.
He said: “The challenge for us in the future is to keep driving air fares down. I have this vision that in the next five to 10 years that the air fares on Ryanair will be free.
“In which case the flights will be full, and we will be making our money out of sharing the airport revenues; of all the people who will be running through airports, and getting a share of the shopping and the retail revenues at airports.
He said that the process that could turn such a fanciful idea into a reality has already begun.
He said: “I think it will happen. It just won’t happen at Heathrow or those big hub airports.
“But most of the other airports who are looking for big traffic growth, that process is already starting to happen, lowering airport fees and some of the charges.
“If (air passenger duty) is gone: at many airports I’m paying more than £20 (approximately €23) already with APD and fees, if I start getting that back, why not?
“I’m doing seat sales this week at £4 (€5) and I’m paying the £13 (€15) APD – I’m paying you to fly with me.
“Instead of promotional tickets being £9 (€10.50) or £5 (€6) they will be free.”
Ryanair is one of Europe’s most successful airlines and will be expanding further in 2017. They are planning to take on 50 new planes and will look to create up to 3,500 jobs as part of a major recruitment drive.
Written by Michael Kehoe @michaelcalling