Ryanair’s board approves transatlantic flights
Airline confirms it is talking to manufacturers about long-haul aircraft
Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s chief executive, has talked for many years about establishing a transatlantic airline offering cheap fares, and the disclosure that the board has approved outline plans suggests the company is now serious about proceeding.
The board of Ryanair has approved plans to launch transatlantic flights, as part of an ambitious five-year growth strategy outlined by the airline.
One-way transatlantic tickets could start at just £10, with the airline offering flights from Europe to up to 14 US cities.
“The board of Ryanair, like any PLC, have approved the business plans for future growth, including transatlantic,” the airline said in a statement.
Ryanair said it was already in talks with manufacturers about purchasing long-haul aircraft but couldn’t comment further.
“European consumers want lower-cost travel to the USA and the same for Americans coming to Europe. We see it as a logical development in the European market,” the airline added.
Chicago, Boston, New York, London, Berlin and Dublin are understood to be among the cities included in the plan, which could come into operation in four or five years time if the airline can reach a deal to buy long-haul aircraft - most likely with Airbus or Boeing.
Speaking in Washington DC, during his St Patrick’s day visit to the US, Taoiseach Enda Kenny wished Ryanair good luck with its transatlantic palns.
Asked if he would consider travelling to the US on a Ryanair plane next year, he said:“I’ve flown with Ryanair on many occasions and the last time I flew with Ryanair Michael O’Leary rang me up himself and said, ‘I missed you, didn’t I’. Yes of course, and good luck to them.”
Asked for his view on implications of the announcement for Aer Lingus, Mr Kenny said: “The more connectivity we have with America the greater the opportunity for people to come both ways.”
Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary has been discussing the possibility of low fare transatlantic flights for several years.
Addressing the Deloitte Enterprise Ireland CEO Forum last November, Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary said the airline would like to operate a low-cost transatlantic service, from 15 European cities to about 12 US cities, but that sourcing long-haul aircraft is a challenge.
“We would need a fleet of long haul aircraft. There is a historical shortage. We can’t get the aircraft we need for three or four years,” he said.
Norwegian Air Shuttle, the Oslo-based low-cost airline, is also planning to operate low-cost, long-haul services connecting Europe with the US and Asia using its Dublin-based subsidiary, Norwegian Air International.
Norwegian is one of the first airlines trying to bring low-cost flying to long-haul flights. It has a fleet of 17 Boeing 787 Dreamliners and plans to order at least five to 10 more.
However, while Norwegian Air Shuttle already flies from London to New York, its Ireland-based subsidiary, Norwegian Air International, does not have permission to fly to the country.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny wished Ryanair good luck when asked about the development while visiting the US for St Patrick’s Day.
Asked if he would consider travelling to the US on a Ryanair plane next year, he replied: “Yes of course, and good luck to them”.
“I’ve flown with Ryanair on many occasions and the last time I flew with Ryanair Michael O’Leary rang me up himself and said, ‘I missed you, didn’t I’.”
Asked for his view on implications of the announcement for Aer Lingus, Mr Kenny replied: “The more connectivity we have with America the greater the opportunity for people to come both ways.”