Airlines

Published on May 25th, 2015 | by Jim Lee

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Ryanair responds to Aer Lingus challenge as it seeks more business passengers

On 21st May, Ryanair, announced that it was adding extra flights from Dublin to Birmingham (two additional daily), Liverpool (an additional daily) and Manchester (an additional daily). This is part of a significantly expanded winter 2015 schedule, which will offer customers 63 winter routes in total, including two new routes, Copenhagen and Lublin and over 580 weekly return flights. The latter two routes were previously announced, together with extra flights from Dublin to Alicante (5 to 6 x weekly), Faro (4 weekly to 1 x daily), Tenerife (4 to 5 x weekly) and Warsaw (6 to 8 weekly). Another highlight in the winter schedule of over 1,600 routes across its European network, is seven new routes from Cologne, including a new four times daily service to Berlin Schönefeld. Ryanair will also develop Schönefeld into its sixth German base during this year’s winter season, with 16 new routes (22 routes in total), 191 weekly flights and five based aircraft.

This followed the announcement that Aer Lingus would add a new Dublin-Liverpool service to its route network this winter and also continue its recently launched Washington DC service into January next year. Aer Lingus Chief Revenue Officer, Mike Rutter noted that new Dublin-Liverpool route was Aer Lingus’ first major expansion in Short Haul services for a decade. The Aer Lingus service is due to commence on 23rd October, with 16 flights per week between Liverpool and Dublin, using a 174 seat Airbus A320 aircraft. Flight times are ideal for those passengers wanting to conduct a day’s business in Dublin, departing from Liverpool at 08:40 and arriving back at 19:05 throughout the working week.

The expanded Ryanair schedule on the other hand, will deliver six daily flights to Birmingham and Manchester and four daily flights to Liverpool. Ryanair’s Chief Commercial Officer, David O’Brien, was quick to point out that the extra flights from Dublin to Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester, would offer business customers the largest range of UK business routes, at the lowest fares and convenient business timings. “Irish customers and visitors already choose Ryanair for our low fares, industry leading customer service and great route choice. Now they can also book their winter flights even earlier on our improved website and mobile app, carry a free small 2nd carry-on bag, enjoy allocated seats, avail of our Family Extra and Business Plus services, and use their personal electronic devices at all stages of their flight”, he added.

Ryanair Boeing 737-8AS EI-EMI (JH)

The expanded schedule now has up to six daily flights to Birmingham from Dublin. Joe Heeney

However, Aer Lingus have historical links with Liverpool and were one of the first airlines to operate from there almost 80 years ago, having first established air links with Dublin in 1936. These first services using DH84 Dragon (the original Iolar, EI-ABI) were operated from Baldonnel. The first Aer Lingus service from Dublin Airport was operated by a Lockheed 14 aircraft on 19th January 1940. Sentiment aside, the Aer Lingus service will allow passengers to seamlessly connect onto its transatlantic services to North America (New York, Boston, Chicago, Washington, Orlando, San Francisco and Toronto), with the morning flight from Liverpool timed to enable convenient transfer times for passengers at Dublin Airport, of as little as 75 minutes. This together with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Pre-clearance facility, which enables a speedy exit after arriving on the airline’s long haul flights and avoid lengthy arrivals processing queues, means that Aer Lingus has significant advantages and should prove popular.

Ryanair releases the latest upgrade to its mobile app

In another obvious attempt to capture more business traffic, Ryanair released the latest upgrade to its mobile app on 21st May. It features an improved ‘My Ryanair’ customer registration function, allowing even faster access and easier booking of Europe’s lowest fares. Using the ‘My Ryanair’ mobile feature, customers can create their own personal profile to ensure swifter bookings and flight check-ins. Ryanair’s mobile app allows users to:

  • Log in via the ‘My Ryanair’ feature
  • Search Ryanair’s 1,600 low fare routes
  • Choose & book fares & allocated seats
  • Book hotels & car hire
  • Check-in & download mobile boarding passes

The app is available in both IOS and Android format, and has been downloaded over 6 million times.

Further additions to the ‘My Ryanair’ customer registration service will be added later this year, which will allow users to add family members to their profile, as Ryanair continues to improve its digital offering under year two of its ‘Always Getting Better’ programme. This has already seen allocated seating, a free second carry-on bag, reduced fees, a new website, a brand new app with mobile boarding passes and Family Extra and Business Plus being introduced. More importantly, Ryanair continues to deliver impressive customer service statistics and its latest figures for April, show that 90% of over 52,000 flights arrived on-time, that there was less than one complaint per 1,000 passengers (up slightly due to the French ATC strikes) and over 99% of all complaints were answered within seven days. This is backed up by Ryanair’s new Customer Charter launched on 4th March, which comprises the following eight promises:

  • Always Getting Better is the way we promise to do things
  • We promise the lowest fares
  • We promise the best choice of destinations
  • We promise to always prioritise safety
  • We promise to strive to make your travel an enjoyable experience
  • We promise we will always be Europe’s most reliable airline
  • We promise to be transparent and to make travel simple for you
  • We promise to innovate to make your travel exciting

Ryanair also lowered its airport check-in fees and missed departure fee (announced on 5th May). The airport check-in fee has been reduced from €70 to €45, and its missed departure fee has been reduced from €110 to €100. These fee reductions follow an enhanced sports equipment service, offering five separate sports options and lower fees for smaller items.

Many sceptics believe that changes made by Ryanair over the last two years have been remarkable and some would think unbelievable, given that Michael O’Leary has been at the helm for the changes. Always the pragmatist, he recognised that there’s only so much money to be made from leisure passengers and those permanently in search for that bargain fare. While the old model meant that Ryanair was profitable for a very long period, having generated in excess of €5 billion in net profit over the last decade, he was quick to invent a new strategy to maintain and grow the business. Some would say easyJet was first out of the traps, but Ryanair was quickly behind them and while it might be painful to see the new friendly, cheerful and smiling O’Leary shower his customers with unheard of ‘frills’, it is paying a dividend in both passenger growth and profitability.

As more of us learn to love Ryanair and put behind us, the harsh staff, the inflexible booking conditions, the battles with carry-on baggage, the penalties for forgetting to print a boarding pass and the reported tales of disabled travellers charged for wheelchairs or harassed holidaymakers in tears after being unable to fly home, Ryanair can only prosper and grow. One enduring thing is that Ryanair has been successful in lowering customers’ expectations. In the past when a passenger lost a suitcase on Aer Lingus or British Airways, they knew that the best response was to kick up and complain. With Ryanair, the expectation was that when checked luggage would go astray (and lets be fair, it seldom did), then you were on your own, similarly with cancelled or delayed flights. In reality, Ryanair has made passengers more responsible, fewer turn up late at airports these days, or over pack or fail to complete check-in procedures. A downside, is still the scrabble at the gates, and the attempts to force the most unlikely items into overhead bins to avoid hold luggage. Overall, Ryanair’s key contribution to the aviation passenger experience has been to make us more careful in what we book and how we prepare for and use that experience.

Since our last major review of Ryanair was in our January print issue, we will now look at recent significant initiatives and update the situation in relation to routes, passenger traffic and the fleet

New agreement with Sabre GDS

Ryanair and Sabre

Chief Marketing Officer Kenny Jacobs celebrates the agreement with Sabre GDS.

On 6th May Ryanair and Sabre Corporation, a global technology provider to the travel and tourism industry, announced an agreement that will see Ryanair’s fares and ancillary services made available to Sabre-connected travel agencies and corporations across Europe via the Sabre global distribution system (GDS) from the beginning of June 2015.

In a comment, Ryanair’s Chief Marketing Officer, Kenny Jacobs said “With more than 27% of our customers already travelling on business, we are continuing to enhance Europe’s best business service, with the lowest fares, most on-time flights and our tailored Business Plus service. Business travellers, corporations and TMCs will now have greater access to our low fares and Europe’s largest route network thanks to our agreement with Sabre.” Harald Eisenaecher, Senior Vice President, Sabre Travel Network, EMEA added: “Ryanair has become a popular option for corporate travellers and it’s now easier, faster and more efficient for travel agencies to shop and book Ryanair’s fares and ancillary content all within the Sabre system”. Sabre’s travel marketplace plays an important role in facilitating the marketing and sale of airfares, hotel rooms, rental cars, rail tickets and other types of travel, to travel agents and corporations. It is one of the world’s largest marketplaces, processing over $110 billion (almost €100 billion) in estimated travel spend.

New Aircraft Maintenance facility at Wroclaw

On 13th May, Ryanair announced it would open its first Polish ‘C-check’ maintenance base at Wroclaw Airport in March 2016. Construction on the Wroclaw Aircraft Maintenance Services (WAMS) two bay modern purpose built hangar facility will begin in November. Ryanair expects that the new facility, which has the option of further expansion, will create up to 150 high-tech jobs when completed, including licensed engineers, mechanics and support staff.

The investment of over €6 million, will deliver a dedicated heavy maintenance facility, for ‘C-check’ maintenance for Ryanair’s fleet of Boeing 737-800 aircraft. It is part of Ryanair’s on-going commitment to Wroclaw, (where it has based two aircraft), where it added a new sun route to Tenerife this summer giving 16 routes in total. These are expected to deliver 1 million customers per annum.

Traffic update

On 5th May, Ryanair released its customer and load factor statistics for April which showed that traffic grew 16% to 9 million customers, load factor rose 7% points to 91% and the rolling annual traffic to April grew 12% to 91.8 million customers. Our last review of Ryanair’s traffic figures were published in the January edition of Flying in Ireland and were for November 2014. A summary of the figures since then are given below:-

 

Customers

Load factor

Rolling annual traffic

Month

This year

Last year

change

This year

Last year

change

Total

Increase

November 2014

6.35 m

5.2 m

+22%

88%

81%

+7%

85.4 m

5%

December 2014

6.02 m

5.02 m

+20%

88%

81%

+7%

86.4 m

6%

January 2015

5.98 m

4.6 m

+30%

83%

71%

+12%

87.8 m

8%

February 2015

5.8 m

4.5 m

+29%

89%

78%

+11%

89.1 m

9%

March 2015

6.67 m

5.2 m

+28%

90%

80%

+10%

90.5 m

11%

April 2015

9.0 m

7.8 m

+16%

91%

84%

+7%

91.8 m

16%

Route developments 

While Ryanair’s business model continues to evolve, it still leads the way when it comes to launching new routes. In the first three weeks of the summer season, (24th March to 13th April), it launched 38, twice as many as any other airline. While this is down from the 60 launched last year, Ryanair still has a massive European schedule. Looking at its Irish services alone it now serves Alghero, Alicante, Almeria, Barcelona, Bari, Basle, Beauvais, Bergamo, Berlin/ Schönefeld, Biarritz, Birmingham, Bologna, Bratislava, Bremen, Bristol, Brussels, Bucharest, Budapest, Carcassonne, Chania, Charleroi, Cologne, Comiso, Copenhagen, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Eindhoven, Faro, Fuerteventura, Gdansk, Girona, Glasgow, Hahn, Ibiza, Katowice, Kaunas, Krakow, La Rochelle, Lanzarote, Las Palmas, Leeds/Bradford, Lisbon, Lodz, London/Gatwick, London/Stansted, Luton, Madrid, Malaga, Malta, Manchester, Marrakesh, Marseille, Memmingen, Murcia, Nantes, Newcastle, Nice, Palermo, Palma, Pisa, Porto, Poznan, Prestwick, Reus, Riga, Rodez, Rome/Ciampino, Rygge, Rzeszow, Santander, Seville, Szczecin, Tallinn, Tenerife, Tours, Treviso, Valencia, Vilnius, Warsaw/Modlin and Zadar from Dublin.

From Shannon it serves Alicante, Beauvais, Berlin/ Schönefeld, Fuerteventura, Krakow, Liverpool, London/Gatwick, London/Stansted, Manchester, Memmingen, Nice, Palma, Poitiers, Warsaw/ Modlin and Wroclaw. From Cork it serves Alicante, Bergamo, Bordeaux, Carcassonne, East Midlands, Faro, Gdansk, Girona, Liverpool, London/Gatwick, London/Stansted, Palma and Reus. From Kerry it serves Alicante, Faro, Hahn, London/Stansted and Luton and from Knock it serves Alicante, Bergamo, Bristol, East Midlands, Eindhoven, Girona, Kaunas, Liverpool, London/ Stansted, Luton and Malaga.

Fleet update

Ryanair Boeing 737-8MD (W) EI-FIK (Tex Johnson)

Ryanair Boeing 737-8MD (W) EI-FIK. Tex Johnson

When we lasted reported on the Ryanair fleet, they had taken delivery of EI-FEI (c/n 44690) on 7th November, the last delivery for 2014. Deliveries recommenced on 3rd February with two Boeing 737-8MD (W) aircraft, EI-FIA (c/n 44691) and EI-FIB (c/n 44692). They arrived in Dublin as the RYR800A and RYR800B at 14:59 and 16:00 respectively. Since then a further eight have been delivered as follows:-

EI-FIC (c/n 44693) on 24th February, EI-FID (c/n 44694) on 28th February, EI-FIE (c/n 44695) on 13th March, EI-FIF (c/n 44696) and EI-FIG (c/n 44698) on 28th March, EI-FIH (c/n 44697) on 22nd April, EI-FIJ (c/n 44699) on 2nd May and EI-FIK (c/n 44700) on 12th May. These ten aircraft bring the total number of aircraft delivered to Ryanair to 363. 50 aircraft have left the fleet and another one, EI-DYG (c/n 33639), was written off on 10th November 2008 at Rome, following a hard landing due to multiple bird strikes. The active fleet is therefore 312.

Ryanair have 268 on order. 175 Boeing 738-8AS(W)s were ordered in June 2013, plus a further five ordered in April 2014. Ten aircraft have already been delivered in 2015 and five in 2014 from these orders, 36 are due in 2016, 50 in 2017, 50 in 2018 and 29 are due in 2019. An order for a further three Next-Generation 737-800s was announced by Boeing and Ryanair on 4th March 2015 bringing the total recent orders to 183. The order, previously unidentified on the Boeing Orders and Deliveries website, is valued at $280 million (around €254.5 million) at current list prices. No delivery schedule was given for these extra aircraft, although it is understood that they are due in 2016, bringing that year’s total to 39. 75 aircraft are replacements to existing fleet. Ryanair is also the launch customer for the newest member of the 737 MAX family of aircraft, the 737 MAX 200, finalising an order for 100 last year, with options for 100 more.

Boeing 737-4Q8 OM-EEX leased by Ryanair

Boeing 737-4Q8 OM-EEX leased by Ryanair

As in summer 2014, Ryanair is again leasing in additional capacity this summer. Four Boeing 737s are being wet-leased from Slovak carrier Air Explore, including two Boeing 737-800s. OM-FEX (c/n 28213), a model 8Q8 (W) and OM-HEX (c/n 30785) a model 81Q (W), configured with 189 all-economy class seats, which are in service and based in Stansted. The other two aircraft are Boeing 737-436, OM-CEX (c/n 25839) and Boeing 737-4Q8, OM-EEX (c/n 26302), configured with 168 all-economy class seats. So far only OM-EEX has entered service, also based in Stansted. Ryanair are also wet-leasing two A320-200s from Latvian operator SmartLynx Airlines for use during the summer season. The two aircraft, YL-LCM (c/n 244) and YL-LCN (c/n 662) are based in Madrid Barajas.

Finally, Ryanair has also acquired a Boeing 737-73S/W (c/n 29078) from Killick Aerospace. N278KA was ferried Shannon-Glasgow Prestwick on 5th May and it will be used for crew training purposes. It is due to undergo a C check in Prestwick. It is the first Boeing 737-700 to be operated by Ryanair and we understand that it should be equipped with 155 seats and be painted in Ryanair colours at Maastricht.

Boeing 737-73SW N278KA aquired by Ryanair (JH)

Boeing 737-73SW N278KA aquired by Ryanair. Joe Heeney.

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About the Author

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Jim has had a life-long interest in military matters and aviation. Initially, he fused both of these interests together with a passion for military aviation, initially as a photographer. He has travelled extensively over the years and has been the guest of many European air forces, plus the air forces of the United States, Russia and others throughout the world. His first introduction to journalism coincided with an interest in the civil aviation industry was when he initially wrote for and later edited, ‘Aviation Ireland’, the club magazine of the Aviation Society of Ireland. Jim was a contributor to Flying in Ireland since its inception over 10 years ago and is now a key contributor to this site. He has also contributed items for a number of other aviation magazines and has produced a number of detailed contributions to Government policy documents, most recently the Irish Government’s White Paper on Defence. He is also deeply involved in the local community and voluntary sector and has worked both in local government and central government.



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