The famously low-cost Irish airline Ryanair has big changes in store for the next three years, including transatlantic flights, free WiFi, package holiday deals and swapping the bright yellow interior for something more blue.
Chief Marketing Officer Kenny Jacobs says that despite the improvements, their low prices will stay be the same.
Over Ryanair’s 30 years they have seen record-breaking improvements; its “Always Getting Better” program, for example, “ranks as one of the most dramatic customer service U-turns in aviation history,” the Irish Independent said.
“Transatlantic is still very much in the business plan,” Jacobs said. The transatlantic flights, which will connect to four airports in the US including NYC and Boston, will be launched under a separate brand, “‘brought to you by Ryanair.’
“So that customers know they are getting the Ryanair approach, the low fares and straightforward service,” Jacobs said. They plan for this to happen by 2018.
According to the Huffington Post, Chief Executive Michael O’Leary said they plan to charge as little as $12 for transatlantic flights once they acquire the wider, long-haul aircraft. Extra fees for luggage and meals would apply.
Transatlantic flights would include a business class, or a “premium” section with more legroom, but the European short-haul flights will not, as is Ryanair’s tradition.
The airline is planning for new “package holidays” to launch within 12-18 months as well; working with Booking.com, they now have many more accommodation options.
“‘XYZ Holidays brought to you by Ryanair’ would be a very logical extension of our brand. It would include our flights, various types of accommodation…and we could look at the transfers to and from airports.”
Recently Ryanair has added customer service improvements without slowing turnaround times or raising prices, like assigned seating, an additional free carry-on and “Family Extra” discounts, in which children get half off.
“Despite making all of these changes, we are still the most on-time airline in Europe. 94% of Ryanair flights operated punctually in October,” Jacobs said.
“We haven’t become more expensive [either],” he added, “Customers haven’t been paying for a ‘new’ Ryanair in their fees.”
“The average fare will basically be flat year on year while our competitors’ fares get more expensive. We’re guiding on an average fare of between €46 and €47 (~$58) for 2014, which is a lot lower than the inflation we see across the industry.”
Despite the high fuel bills that come with satellite, Ryanair is also currently looking for the right technology to provide passengers with free WiFi, which would be implemented in a little over a year.
The airline has also added airports to its schedule and continues to do so, including Warsaw, Athens, Lisbon, Glasgow and Copenhagen.
As for the flashy Ryanair yellow plane interiors, Jacobs says a change has been at the top of his list since he joined the company.
The new design will be “a bit more blue...involving pictures of destinations and customers and crew, obviously with nice happy smiley-faces on nice looking destinations.”
Chief executive Michael O’Leary described the yellow as “garish,” and told the Independent he was thinking of a softer shade of gold. Either way, the highlighter yellow is going.
"So there’s a different look and feel that we’re planning to introduce next year. We’re pretty close to finalizing that in the next couple of weeks, then we’ll go into production,” said Jacobs.
"It’s not cheap, but 89 million plus people will see it over a year, so I think it’s a good investment."