Ryanair To Change Business Model

IRISH BUDGET carrier Ryanair has become famous as the airline that flies to destinations you never knew existed through is use of small provincial airports.  For Frankfurt read Hahn, for Paris there is Beauvais, for Brussels it’s Charleroi, and the list goes on.  However, things could be about to change.  During a recent press interview, the airline’s outspoken Chief Executive Michael O’Leary suggested that Ryanair is looking to fly to all but the three largest airports in Europe.  “Almost any airport that we don’t fly to is talking to us across Europe,” he said, and that “increasingly [across our network] there is going to be a spread of bigger airports as well as secondary ones,” as the company moves towards a more “value and service” concept than simply offering low-fares.
Meanwhile, the carrier will be closing its base at Belfast City George Best Airport in Northern Ireland this winter.  It had planned to significantly expand its activities there with an additional three aircraft and introduce flights to Continental Europe but delays approving a runway extension have led it to move these aircraft elsewhere.  Ryanair launched operations from the facility in 2007 when it based one of its Boeing 737-800s there, but the runway’s length has restricted its loads on schedules to Bristol, East Midlands, Glasgow/Prestwick, Liverpool and London/Stansted, which it claims has made any further expansion uneconomical.  It was hoped that this problem would be resolved by extending the runway but this proposal has been the subject of a planning inquiry and (if approved) the extension will not be completed until 2012 at the earliest,  four years later than originally planned.  “It makes no sense for Ryanair to continue to invest in Belfast City, operating restricted routes with less than full payloads,” said Michael O’Leary.