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Michael O'Leary expects Ming to fly Ryanair back to Roscommon and spend his MEP euros

The airline unveiled nine new routes from Dublin this morning.

Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

BUDGET AIRLINE RYANAIR has announced a slew of new and expanded European routes, including a direct flight to Brussels-Zaventum from Dublin.

Michael O’Leary said today that the new routes would primarily target business passengers, and could save the Irish government €3 million in the remaining calender year compared to what it would pay for flights with Aer Lingus.

Political and business travellers coming between Brussels and Dublin will be a main target for Ryanair.

“We’ve all heard the legendary stories of MEPs who picked up their expenses early in the morning and ran back to Ireland to spend it…we fully expect to see our hard-working MEPs on Ryanair going back to Roscommon or wherever it is.”

It marks the latest attempt by the airline to aggressively pursue new segments of market share which it had traditionally ignored, including business passengers and flights to high cost, central airports.

Business tack

O’Leary promised that he would take the wraps off various “goodies” to help woo business travellers to Ryanair in the coming weeks.

For the past number of years they (business travellers) would have been ripped off by Aer Lingus fares.

Ryanair flights would remain under €200 for a same day return flight to Brussels, O’Leary said.

He said that shifting dynamics in European aviation had opened up the major European airports for Ryanair.

“For many years we didn’t care about the main airports…and they didn’t want us there anyway.

“Now they’re genuinely concerned that the incumbent flag carrier will go bust or restructure.”

Asked about Aer Lingus, where Ryanair holds a 30% share, O’Leary described the former state airline as a “small, peripheral former flag carrier…it will not be of any major significance in European aviation”.

Ryanair announces 9 new routes Source: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

He said that he had offered his stake in Aer Lingus to various outfits, including Etihad, but none had expressed interest. O’Leary said, however, that he would not sell off his holding in a piecemeal way, equating such a move to “financial terrorism”, and saying that it would drive the Aer Lingus stock price through the floor.

Strategy

Merrion Capital head of research David Holohan said that the move was in keeping with Ryanair’s recent strategy, and was in part designed to make up for lost ground as other budget carriers have successfully persuaded business travellers to choose their services.

“Ryanair had slipped behind its competitors, Easyjet for example”, Holohan argued.

He said that the budget outfit may struggle to make an impact on the route at first because of deeply ingrained customer habits, but “there’s no reason why they wouldn’t be able to get enough passengers to positively affect profitability”.

It’ll take time because people will associate Ryanair with cheap fares rather than the business bonuses they’d be used to with other airlines.

New routes

In addition to the new Brussels route, the carrier will operate routes to Basel, Bucharest, Cologne, Glasgow, Lisbon, Marrakesh, Nice and Prague.

There are a total of sixty new routes, with increased frequencies on 21 other routes. The airline is predicting that it will carry an extra 850,000 from Dublin every year on the extra flights.

O’Leary also confirmed that he is travelling to Cyprus later today for a new round of talks with the Cypriot government about taking over troubled national carrier Cypriot Air.

Holohan said that such a move “would make sense strategically if the price is right”.

Read: Ryanair crew only discovered ‘significant damage’ to plane after take-off>

Read: Ryanair thinks its new friendly approach is working>

About the author:

Jack Horgan-Jones

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