RYANAIR is ditching charges for checked-in bags on some fares in an attempt to attract business travellers who have often shunned the airline.
Europe’s largest budget carrier said its new ‘Business Plus’ tickets would also offer free flight changes, fast-track through airport security and premium seats near the exits.
“The customer experience had a few rough edges that needed to be knocked off and we’ve done that,” said chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs.
The changes could increase the pressure on traditional airlines. Most full-service airlines have been unable to cut prices far enough to stop an exodus of passengers and still turn a profit. Business users have been among the few willing to pay more for the travel perks they offer.
“As Ryanair relentlessly increases capacity and gradually broadens its target markets, the legacy carriers will feel the pain,” said Stephen Furlong, an analyst with Davy Stockbrokers in Dublin. “They are showing this market is not only the preserve of legacy airlines.”
Ryanair, which serves a large number of destinations from Leeds-Bradford Airport, needs to capture more of the business market to achieve its goal of flying 120 million passengers per year by 2022.
It estimates that around 20 million of its 83 million annual passengers are business travellers. A Ryanair spokesman said it didn’t provide a regional breakdown of figures for its business travellers.