Ryanair appears to have changed their mind and abandoned their plans to provide cheap transatlantic flights within the next five years.
It was only Monday that the company stated that the Board of Trustees had signed off on plans to introduce a transatlantic service as part of their offering. They also announced that fares were set to begin at $15 one-way (excluding taxes and charges), although the majority of seats would be set at a higher premium rate. Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O’Leary said that he hoped to provide an average price for flights that would be less than $105 with service beginning some time in the next four to five years.
In the official statement last Monday, the company explained, "European consumers want lower cost travel to the US and the same for Americans coming to Europe. We see it as a logical development in the European market."
In a further announcement, however, Ryanair denied that the board had signed off on any such plans. A Ryanair press statement said, “In the light of recent press coverage, the board of Ryanair Holdings Plc wishes to clarify that it has not considered or approved any transatlantic project and does not intend to do so.” O’Leary considered launching a transatlantic service some years ago with the plans first coming to light in 2008, but has so far they have been unable to find a way to make the venture financially worthwhile.
The company had originally stated that it was interested in beginning transatlantic flights between 12 to 14 European cities to as many U.S. cities and that it was investigating the possibility of investing in a new fleet for this purpose. Acquiring the necessary planes, however, was one of the major barriers to the airline's transatlantic plans. Last November O’Leary stated that Ryanair was still some way off being able to provide transatlantic flights due to the backlog in orders for long-haul aircraft. O’Leary suggested that it could possibly mean a three to four year wait before they would own a fleet substantial enough to embark on transatlantic expansion.
The transatlantic flight market is currently dominated by well-established airlines such as British Airways and American Airlines. The Norwegian carrier Norwegian Air Shuttle launched a new service between the U.S. and Europe in 2013 but blamed this new flight service for their subsequent first loss in eight years. Both Laker Airlines and Zoom Airlines have also previously attempted to establish a cheap fare transatlantic service and have since ceased operations. Icelandic airline WOW! will soon launch their low cost transatlantic service. Flights between Ireland and Washington D.C. and Boston are set to begin later this year with round-trip lead-in price of $350 (including all taxes).