Simon Calder, also called The Man Who Pays His Way, has been writing about journey for The Independent since 1994. In his weekly opinion column, he explores a key journey situation – and what it means for you.
It ended: “He is, in fact, chief executive of Ryanair.”
Radio 4 doesn’t make that sort of mistake any extra. When the boss of Europe’s greatest funds airline was on the Today programme this week, he was accurately launched – and his phrases have been broadly reported as heralding the tip of the period of ultra-cheap flights.
“At the lower end of the marketplace, our really cheap promotional fares – the one euro fares, the €0.99 fares, even the €9.99 fares – I think you will not see those fares for the next number of years,” he mentioned.
I occur to be an avid client of such fares. Indeed, I started my present North American journey with a £12.99 hop from Luton airport to Dublin, with the intention to keep away from the £84 UK Air Passenger Duty (APD) on long-haul journeys.
So I’m heartened to see that there is no such thing as a finish in sight to “really cheap promotional fares”. Next Wednesday, for instance, you’ll be able to fly from Dublin to Stansted for €10.99 (£9.30). In October, the usual fare on many flights from Manchester to the Irish capital is £12.99. Too a lot? Fly as a substitute from Edinburgh to Cork for £9.99.
Similar fares can be found to and from many cities in Continental Europe, too. A variety of events condemn such fares: environmentalists are horrified on the frivolous flying that they encourage, attractive folks to take day journeys from Britain to Ireland whatever the harm they trigger to the planet.
Rival airline bosses deplore the misplaced expectations such fares create. They concern potential prospects will conclude: “If I can get 90 minutes of flying for less than a tenner on Ryanair, why should another carrier charge me 20 times as much for the same journey?”
Of course Ryanair is completely blissful to cost £200 or £300 the place it may, which is when demand is robust – because it definitely is to and from the Mediterranean this summer season. And Mr O’Leary’s feedback are designed to handle passengers’ expectations of paying steadily extra for his or her flights.
But the airline’s enterprise mannequin requires there all the time to be some ultra-low fares. Ryanair is “yield passive, load factor active”. That means its principal focus is to fill planes, no matter how low the fare should be to attain that purpose – and the way excessive the price of gasoline.
Take that €10.99 Dublin-Stansted fare subsequent Wednesday. The outbound flight is a well-liked one, permitting passengers heading for the Irish capital to go away central London at 5 or 6pm and nonetheless arrive at Dublin airport at 9.30pm – with loads of time to achieve their last vacation spot.
Coming again, although, the aircraft is scheduled to reach at Stansted at 11.10pm – too late for many individuals to attach with out paying for airport parking or a taxi. They could be extra prone to pay extra for one of many early night departures. FR298 is cheerfully recognized by some within the airline enterprise as a “dog flight”: unappealing and arduous to fill. That’s why you want a £10 fare.
The aircraft, pilots and cabin crew need to fly again to Stansted to finish their working days. You may as effectively entice price-sensitive passengers (who in earlier generations may have been on the in a single day bus) to step aboard. Flog them a selected seat, the proper to convey a giant bag on board and a sandwich and you’ll earn greater than the marginal value of permitting me on board – and the loss from that specific operation begins to dwindle.
Yet Michael O’Leary was not the primary to provide you with an answer to the “dog flight” dilemma. That honour goes to Stelios Haji-Ioannou, founding father of easyJet, who began promoting seats at marginal value within the late Nineties – when Michael O’Leary was a rival of Britain’s greatest funds airline, and undoubtedly not easyJet’s chief government.
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