$10 fares to Europe? Maybe, Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary says

Will Ryanair ever fly to the United States? Above, a photo of one of the airline's planes. Notice the ads? Photo: Oscar von Bonsdorf, via  Creative Commons.

Will Ryanair ever fly to the United States? Above, a photo of one of the airline’s planes. Notice the ads? Photo: Oscar von Bonsdorf, via Creative Commons.

Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary said his ultra discount Irish airline could someday offer 10 Euro one-way fares between major European cities and Boston and New York, according to the Irish Independent newspaper. That’s a bit more than $13.60 one-way at current exchange rates. (Flights to Europe could be priced even lower – at $10 one way.)

O’Leary has a habit of making outrageous statements — he has ruminated on one-pilot airplanes and pay toilets on board — but he has also shown himself to be a shrewd businessman. His Ryanair, on which you pay for just about everything, from food to seat assignments to speaking with a human at most points in the traveling process, has been wildly successful.

So if the man says he might offer 10 Euro flights between Europe and the U.S., it’s worth listening. Ryanair doesn’t yet have the fleet for overwater flights — it has about 300 737s –but that could change. A much smaller competitor within Europe, Norwegian Air Shuttle, has recently started trans-Atlantic flights and will soon start service between L.A. and London, Oslo, Cophenhagen and Stockholm.

O’Leary said it could be five years before the airline buys the planes it needs, according to the Independent.

So how will Ryanair make money with such cheap fares? For one, there will be relatively few 10 Euro tickets available on each flight. For another, the carrier will continue to charge for everything. So unless you bring no luggage, don’t want food or drink and have no interested in interacting with a human, you’ll pay far more than than 10 Euro or $10. Also, O’Leary signaled, Ryanair could put some sort of premium cabin on its flights. Passengers in those seats would pay more,  giving the carrier some extra profit.

“We can make money on 99 cent fares in Europe – not every seat will be €10 of course, there will also need to be a very high number of business or premium seats,” O’Leary said, according to the Independent.

O’Leary has said that one of the issues with trans-Atlantic flights is the fact that there’s a relative shortage of the planes Ryanair would need to buy. Earlier this month, the website Skift quoted O’Leary as saying that some Middle East airlines — mainly Etihad and Emirates — were buying up so many new airplanes that it has been difficult for other carriers to get them at reasonable prices.

“But the more you look at the backlog of Boeing and Airbus deliveries in long-haul and the crazy scale of the order book they have primarily from the Middle Eastern carriers, I think for the moment, I don’t see there being an opportunity to pick up a fleet at a reasonable pricing,” O’Leary said, according to Skift.

Also, according to Skift, O’Leary signaled that it likely would be a Ryanair subsidiary, and not the main carrier, that operates any overseas flights.

What do you think? Will Ryanair ever fly trans-Atlantic routes? And if it does, will there really be 10 Euro or $10 fares?

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  • nedmedgreg

    This rubbish comes from O’Leary at infrequent intervals.
    A simple calculation of fuel cost for a transatlantiske flight:
    Distance London – New York: 5600 km
    Fuel consumption for e.g. an A380 superjumbo: 0.03 liter per passenger-km (according to Airbus).
    Prise of jet fuel: 3.0 $ per US gallon = 0.775 $ per liter.
    Thus, the fuel cost of transporting one passenger from London to NY is 130 US$, or 94.5 EUR; almost ten times O’Leary’s promised ticket price.
    So, mr. O’Leary will have to get airliners which don’t use any fuel, or steal the fuel!

  • Brian Sumers

    Or there will be a $10 base fare and a $200 (or more) fuel surcharge. That would seem like a Ryanair thing to do, no?