Controversial Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary has teamed up with internet giants Google to radically change how airline tickets are sold.
The Ryanair boss believes the initiative will transform how passengers research flights, choose them and pay for them.
O’Leary told the paper that the partnership with Google would change the way people buy tickets forever.
He said: “There are some very exciting developments with Google, where we have been working with them on sharing the pricing.
“We’ll be sharing the Ryanair pricing through all of the Google outlets, so when you go in, there’ll be route selections, cheapest prices and so on. Google are developing a price-comparison thing themselves.
“They want to launch with us and we’re working with them on that kind of product. It’ll blow comparison sites like Skyscanner out of the water.”
He has told the Sunday Independent that the new scheme could launch online as early as March – and it will be funded entirely by Google.
He added: “Google will say, ‘Here are the fares,’ then you click straight through to Ryanair or someone else. It blows everyone else out of the water.
“Because Google, being Google, want to show all of the prices from all of the airlines on display. They don’t want to charge us, they make all of their money out of advertising.
“They don’t want to have a limited or biased search. They want to be able to say they’ve screened all of these airlines on all of the routes.
“They need to find who has got the lowest airfare on these routes - and that’s us.”
As he becomes the ‘cuddly face’ of Ryanair, O’Leary expects the airline to cash on the technology revolution via mobile commerce and big data.
He said: “In Europe, the flying won’t change much but the distribution will change massively. It’s all going to move to digital and mobile. The opportunities for ancillary revenues through mobile are enormous.
“In five years’ time, everyone on Ryanair will be paying on their mobile. You’ll pay for your drinks and snacks with your mobile. You’ll upgrade to priority boarding on your mobile.
“We’ll be doing more individual marketing, with the launch of My Ryanair.
“We’ll build individual profiles for each passenger. We’ll know how often you fly, where you fly, who you fly with and we’ll design individual packages for you.
“For example, if you fly business 12 times a year, we’ll say something like, ‘If you fly 13 times, here’s a free ticket for your wife’.
Confirming a softer approach to passengers, O’Leary added: “We own the 81 million price-sensitive people or people who live around our airports in Europe, so we now have to go after the 20 million or 30 million people, the people who’d say, ‘I’d rather pay €20 or €30 more to fly Aer Lingus.”