No-frills airline Ryanair is looking east for new aircraft.
On Tuesday, Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary signed an agreement with the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China to help the company develop its C919 twin-engine airliner. With the C919 Comac plans to challenge the Airbus/Boeing duopoly for single-aisle aircraft seating between 150 and 190 passengers. Read More…
Michael O’Leary, the outspoken boss of no-frills airline Ryanair, has got pilots and passenger lobby groups all hot under the collar by asking whether it’s necessary for commercial airliners to have two pilots on the flight deck. Read More…
More bad times loom for British Airways and its passengers after Unite, the airline’s cabin crew union, voted massively in favour to strike over pay and conditions. This is what the strike looks like in numbers. Scary, huh? Read More…
Britain’s airport operator BAA has sold Gatwick Airport south of London for £1.51 billion to Global Infrastructure Partners, an investment fund that also owns London City airport.
Six thousand miles away on the balmy coast of KwaZulu-Natal, another international airport is also up for sale, only the buyer probably won’t be interested in flying planes. Read More…
The common thread in airline stories today is, well, just what a common – as in degraded – experience air travel has become for most of the people who have to submit themselves to its dubious joys.
A constant complaint about it is how much it resembles travelling by bus. If you have any doubts about this, fly on one of the no-frills airlines like Ryanair and EasyJet who operate the quintessential flying coaches.
We resent this because flying is supposed to be glamorous. We also want cheap tickets and that’s where the worlds must, and do collide. The flying bus is the future because it’s the only way of transporting people cheaply by air.
Wave goodbye, then, to the silverware, the free dinners and the smiling hosties in the tailored uniforms. Say au revoir to legroom and to seat pitch designed for anyone bigger than a toddler.
It is a future, as Patrick Smith, the world’s best aviation columnist, points out (after a recent bus trip in Turkey), that more airlines should be striving to copy.
In a fine column on the matter of buses versus planes, Smith says: “Historically, we’ve held the airplane in haughty regard over the lowly earthbound bus, but that gap has narrowed drastically. Not because bus travel is exciting and glamorous, but because air travel has sunk to such depravity.”
Turkey, like South Africa, has a patchy rail system with relatively few passenger trains. But unlike SA, there is a bus network served by an estimated 120 000 modern, comfortable long-distance coaches.
A few years ago, Kulula.com CEO Gidon Novick said airfares on this country’s new budget airlines were reaching the point where the upstart carriers were competing with the long-distance bus companies for passengers.
Of course, since then the oil price has hiked from $30 a barrel to $145 a barrel and back to a little over half that and the fallout from the global economic atom bomb will continue to settle on our skins for years to come. The fare gap has widened again, while South Africa’s bus companies have continued to deliver the same old miserable, cramped service that they always have.
The only positive thing to be said about the long-haul buses is that they reach a few more destinations than the country’s passenger trains do – but only just. That fact is generally outweighed by the nature of South African bus journeys which tend to be at night and take a long time at it. Stuffed into an airline-style seat on a bus for 10 hours in the darkness is as unpleasant as flying long-haul on any of the world’s worst airlines.
I don’t want the airlines to emulate Turkey’s excellent and comfortable and all-reaching bus network, with its clean, roomy buses and useful schedules, I just wish the bus companies would.
Ryanair is to move some of its operations from its base at Stansted Airport north of London to Spain because the Spanish have decided to drop landing fees in an effort to keep tourism in the air.
Greece has also eliminated landing fees and other airports are apparently giving discounts to airlines to keep routes open and traffic flowing.
The British, on the other hand, are going ahead with plans to INCREASE air taxes. Which is why O’Leary says he’ll take his “movable assets” – his aircraft – elsewhere.
Ryanair’s latest announcement has all the elements of a good laugh on April Fool’s Day – standing-room only on some flights or aircraft.
It sounds like sounds like nothing more than the headline-grabbing publicity that we have come to expect from Ryanair (a recent example includes a possible charge to use the lavatories in flight).
The story is now galloping around the Internet as is its wont. Just keep one thing in mind: it’s unlikely that any aviation administration the world over will rubber stamp this one – the safety issues, and passenger liability issues are just too onerous.
Me, I’ll be watching Snopes on this one.
There’s a great photo essay in The Telegraph (from where the photo above comes) on some of the daft and outrageous things airlines will do to get people to fly with them. Holy water in vials, smoking-only flights, nudists, dedicated Mile High Club aircraft, a flight attendant who raps the safety announcement, and cabin attendants whose attire shares one thing with the oxygen outside at 35 000 feet – scanty. Read More…
The Ryanair headline-making machine just churns on and on, and the outrage rises from the flying masses like a bubble of hot gas which threatens to more harm to the environment than all Ryanair’s hard-worked aircraft put together.
The airline’s latest move is aimed at those beasts of burden who arrive for their flights weighed down with, you know, stuff, like a trading caravan. From the end of this year, says the airline, passengers who wish to check luggage into the aircraft’s hold will be directed to baggage-drop points, since there will no longer be any check-in desks either.
This follows a previous annoucement that passengers attempting to board flights carrying more than one piece of hand luggage would be charged £30 (R430) at the gate.
So it’s one piece of hand luggage only, nothing in the hold, and, as this editorial in The Times, London, notes, “if you have an infant – £38 return to sit on your lap – leave it at home”.
For the unencumbered traveller, it’s probably a good thing. Who likes travelling heavy anyway? But they had better weigh those bags before putting them in the overhead bins, because that’s where people will stash their skelm kilograms. Yep, right above your head.
Ryanair surely knows how to generate column inches. This time one of its online staff abused a customer who discovered a glitch in the airline’s site which, essentially, would have allowed the traveller to fly for free. If it worked. Which it didn’t. Read More…