The low-cost operator yesterday formally unveiled its much-anticipated new product offering specifically aimed at those travelling on business trips; a market segment traditionally ruled by the likes of British Airways and Lufthansa.
‘Ryanair Business Plus’ is the latest element of the airline’s ‘Always Getting Better’ customer service improvement programme; which has already seen a lowering of booking fees, an easier to use website, a loosening of baggage restrictions and the launch of a new ‘app’ to enable easier booking via smartphone and tablet devices.
The new service allows users a greater baggage allowance — of up to 20kg — fast-tracking through security at selected airports, premium seats, the option of changing their flight at short-notice free of charge and priority boarding. Prices start at €69.99.
Already, Ryanair estimates that around 25% of its customers travel with it for business purposes. Overall, the airline expects to see its annual passenger numbers grow from 82m to 120m in the coming five years, and management sees 30% of the latter figure using its business product.
“The launch of Ryanair Business Plus — combined with our new groups and corporate service and partnership with Travelport GDS; with a second GDS [global distribution system] partner to be announced soon — will make business travel with Ryanair ever simpler, as we continue to offer so much more than just the lowest fares,” the airline’s chief marketing officer, Kenny Jacobs said yesterday.
Ryanair’s business class will cover the first five rows of seats, the middle two and the last two. It will not be curtained off from economy class — “we don’t believe in that model,” Mr Jacobs said — but the airline claims early feedback shows customers are most interested in the fast-track and priority seating elements than the lack of any on-board perks.
The service will actually be open to all travellers and is available on all routes; but Ryanair expects it to be most popular at traditional business travelling times (early Monday, late Thursday) and on routes like Cologne-Bonn, Brussels-Charleroi, London Stansted and Madrid.
The airline’s newly launched Dublin Summer 2015 programme also sees additional frequency on many business-orientated routes.