The president of Ryanair has declared that, in less than three years, passengers could be enjoying cheap flights between the US and Europe through an airline backed by his company.
Michael O'Leary said his plans to launch an inexpensive transatlantic service have been reaffirmed by the crisis in the sector, which could significantly lower the cost of long-haul jets as competitors bankrupt or cancel their orders.
The airline will fly from up to nine bases on each side of the Atlantic, with Stansted, Frankfurt-Hahn and Rome-Fiumicino among the candidates for Europe; Islip Airport on Long Island could be the base in New York.
According to O'Leary, the airline could start up 18 months after acquiring a new fleet next year. "There may be an opportunity to buy cheap long-haul aircraft next year, in which case we could launch an affordable long-haul program in two and a half years," he said.
And he added that Ryanair would be "clearly independent" of the new airline, which will try to fight better than Zoom (a British-Canadian airline that went bankrupt in August) in the market for cheap long-haul flights. O'Leary also pointed out that he would not be the one to run the new company, although he could join other Ryanair investors, such as Prudential and TPG, in financing the company.
The airline hopes to be able to have a fleet of new aircraft, by taking orders from Boeing and Airbus that are canceled due to the bankruptcy or economic difficulties of other companies. O'Leary already obtained significant discounts from Boeing during the last industry crisis, when it placed a sizeable order to expand its fleet.
O'Leary also hopes to offer a business class area with beds at a lower price than BA or Virgin Atlantic.
According to the president of Ryanair, at least one British airline and two continental ones could go bankrupt in a few weeks, as any benefits they can make from the drop in fuel prices will come too late to save the less profitable companies.
Source: The Guardian Business