Boeing Frontiers
September 2003
Volume 02, Issue 05
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Industry Wrap

Ryanair mulls ‘upmarket’ service boost

Ryanair mulls ‘upmarket’ service boostRyanair, the European low-fare airline, is going "upmarket," according to a recent report in the Sunday Times of London.

Among changes the newspaper reported: The airline will replace its distinctive blue cloth seats with leather upholstery. It will jettison the dog-eared in-flight magazine in favor of a new content-driven glossy publication. And it will add highend electronic goods to the catalog of inflight merchandise.

The new image marks a departure for Ryanair, which previously made a virtue of its spartan in-flight service.

Asked about the shift in strategy, the company said the time had come for it to start concentrating on the quality of its service.

"Ryanair wants to be best in everything it does," the company said. "We'll carry 24 million passengers this year and we want to give them another reason to enjoy the experience. We've got the lowest fares and the best punctuality, and now it's time to raise the stakes when it comes to the quality of our product."

The public will interpret the move as a reaction to competition from traditional airlines, which are increasingly adopting the low-fares model developed by Southwest Airlines in the United States, originally applied in Europe by Ryanair.

Passengers on Ryanair's 125 routes will see the difference this month, when the company adds the first of 100 new Boeing 737-800s to the fleet.

Observers expect Ryanair to retain cloth seating in the existing fleet, although all new planes will come with leather upholstery. The existing fleet will, however, get a facelift.

The company is still trying to decide which items it should add to the in-flight offering. High-tech gadgets such as MP3 players are one likely addition. Catering companies offering samples of their products for inclusion have besieged Ryanair's Dublin, Ireland, airport headquarters.

Ryanair has been in negotiations for some months with publishers, including a number of Irish firms, capable of producing a glossy magazine for the airline's European market. The new magazine will be content-led, with articles of general interest alongside features on destinations Ryanair serves. As well as driving in-flight sales, such a magazine could be an attractive proposition for advertisers wanting to target Ryanair's cost-conscious customer base.


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