Profits up, revenue up, passenger numbers up. Ryanair’s financial results seem to be going in the opposite direction to every other airline out there. But is it really the low prices that encourage us to fly Ryanair?
Speaking about Ryanair’s 20% increase in half-year profits, chief executive Michael O’Leary today claimed the impact of recession was one of the reasons the airline was doing well:
‘People are still flying in the recession, but they are becoming more and more price sensitive, so in a recession, Ryanair is doing really well.’
His explanation relies on two assumptions – that Ryanair’s fares really are cheaper than rival airlines, and that people are switching to the airline for that reason.
Booking with Ryanair
Now some people swear by Ryanair and are prepared to put the effort in to negotiating its booking systems, signing up for its unusual payment cards to avoid surcharges, and making do with its brusque customer service.
But there are plenty of others who are so put off by its lack of pricing transparency and its charges for ‘optional’ extras that they refuse to fly Ryanair, especially if there’s an alternative available.
I recently paid slightly more to fly to the south of France with Easyjet rather than Ryanair, because I was so exasperated by the time I had worked out what it was really going to cost me that I decided I’d had enough.
Are you flying with Ryanair?
So I’m sceptical that today’s results are due to droves of UK travellers switching to Ryanair as they tighten their belts in recession. Perhaps it’s more to do with the airline’s huge expansion elsewhere in Europe, and the captive audience it has on routes where there’s no competition?
It is also due to higher prices, as today’s results revealed a 13% increase in Ryanair’s average fares. Interestingly, average fares now include the baggage fees that are officially classed as optional.
So would you switch to Ryanair to save cash in hard times? Is it really the cheapest option? And even if it is, will you still you steer clear?
And if you’re fed up with paying the fees Ryanair charges to pay by debit or credit card, why not back our campaign to hassle Mark Hoban MP, the financial secretary, into taking action.