Etihad Acquires Stake in Aer Lingus

Ireland’s Aer Lingus will be selling part of its equity holdings to Etihad Airways, a UAE-based national airline.

Etihad has acquired a 2.99 percent holding in the Irish airline recently for an undisclosed amount, and intends to work closely with the Irish airline to enter into probable code share agreements, and joint procurements.

Etihad Airways is currently offering around 10 flights a week from Abu Dhabi, in the UAE, to Dublin, in Ireland and has ferried around 750,000 passengers between the two destinations since commencement of the route in July 2007.

Etihad has a premium lounge at Dublin Airport, maintains an engineering maintenance facility in Ireland, and has recently entered into an agreement to renew its sponsorship of the Gaelic Athletic Association, an Ireland-based sports and cultural association.

Aer Lingus said in a statement that Etihad does not intend to acquire more of a stake in the airline company, and will be focusing on reciprocal code-share opportunities, stating, ‘Future discussions may explore additional commercial and cost opportunities to develop a closer working relationship in areas such as joint procurement.’

Etihad, in the statement, said, ‘the purchase reflected its desire to forge a commercial partnership with the Irish national carrier’ and it believes, ‘a possible partnership could produce significant commercial benefits for both airlines.’

Ryanair, an Ireland-based low cost airline, is also an investor in Aer Lingus and owns a 30 percent stake in the airline.

Ryanair chief executive officer, Michael O’Leary, said, ‘The future of Aer Lingus can only be decided when or if the Irish government sells its 25 percent stake. If this is sold to Etihad or to a financial investor, then it is inevitable that Aer Lingus will be broken up and some or all of its Heathrow slots lost to Ireland.’

Ryanair Announces Special Service for Chelsea Fans for UEFA Champions League Final

Ryanair, the Ireland-based budget airline, has announced an addition to its service to Munich, Germany, from London Stansted Airport.

The airline is offering additional flight from London Stansted Airport to Munich for the UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) Champions League final to be played on May 19, 2012, between English club, Chelsea, and German club, Bayern Munich, at the Allianz Arena in Munich.

The winner of the tournament will be playing the 2011-12 UEFA Europa League winners in the 2012 UEFA Super Cup, and will also be entering the semi-finals of the 2012 FIFA Club World Championship, as the UEFA representative.

Ryanair has responded to the massive demand for travel from Chelsea fans, and the fares are on offer from £467 return, with the special flight departing London Stansted Airport at 16:10GMT on May 18, 2012, and returning from Munich on May 20, 2012.

The airline has advised Chelsea fans to book in advance for the limited-seat flight.

The company head of communications, Stephen McNamara, said, ‘Ryanair has scheduled another extra Champions League Final flight after our reservations centre was flooded with calls from Chelsea fans eager to witness their showdown with Bayern Munich, in what will be the biggest match in the club’s history.

Ryanair’s Champions League Final flights will ensure the Blues fans reach the final and won’t be outnumbered by home supporters in Munich. Four Chelsea players will miss the final – Chelsea fans should book today on www.ryanair.com to avoid missing out too.’

Ryanair Adds Liverpool to Warsaw Flights

Ryanair, the Ireland-based low cost airline, has announced a new route from Liverpool John Lennon Airport, in Liverpool, England, to Warsaw, in Poland.

The new route will be launched in October 2012, with the initial three times-weekly flights service commencing from October 28.

The airline will be landing at a newly converted military base in Poland, Warsaw-Modlin Mazovia Airport, about 35km from the city. The new airport has been converted to cater for visitors to the country for the 2012 UEFA European Football Championships, hosted by Poland and Ukraine, and is scheduled to open for business on July 16, 2012. Currently the route between Liverpool and Warsaw is served by Hungary based airline, Wizzair; and LOT Airline from Poland.

Introductory fares for the new route commence at £20.99 per person, one way.

Previously, Ryanair announced eight new routes from Warsaw to Brussels (Belgium), Budapest (Hungary), Dublin (Ireland), London (England), Milan (Italy), Oslo (Norway), Rome (Italy) and Stockholm (Sweden). The new routes commence from July 2012.

Recently the airline also entered into an agreement with isango, a UK-based travel company, to offer low cost tours and travel to passengers. Ryanair passengers may book discounted tours and attraction tickets online, or on flights, with the help of the isango platform.

The company head of communications, Stephen McNamara, said, ‘Ryanair delivers Europe’s lowest fares and passengers can continue to save by snapping up great value discounted tours and attraction tickets online or on-board Ryanair flights. Ryanair is delighted to partner with isango! to ensure that passengers can enjoy tours and attractions and save time and money by bagging yet another bargain with Ryanair and isango!’

Ryanair Launches Website for Hotel Booking

Ryanair, an Ireland-based low cost airline, has announced the launch of RyanairHotels.com, a hotel price comparison website.

The new website offers a portfolio of around 300,000 hotels across Europe, in collaboration with HotelsCombined.com, an Australia-based hotel price comparison search engine.

The new website claims to include hotels to suit every budget, from the lowest priced to luxurious resorts, offered with a user-friendly and interactive interface. The website also features hotel reviews covering every aspect of the hotels, from access, hotel rooms and amenities, to services offered. The website claims that the prices are the lowest for any hotel in that particular range.

Ryanair chief executive officer, Michael O’Leary, said, ‘Ryanair will carry 80 million passengers this year at our guaranteed lowest fares and no fuel surcharges and now RyanairHotels.com will guarantee the lowest hotel prices to ensure that Ryanair passengers save even more every time they fly with us.

RyanairHotels.com searches more hotel prices than any other comparison site to ensure that RyanairHotels.com passengers get the lowest prices and the maximum availability from over 300,000 hotels. So whether you’re looking for budget or 5-star accommodation you will find it, at the lowest prices, only at RyanairHotels.com. With Ryanair you save money on flights and on your accommodation as well.’

The director of business development for HotelsCombined, Yury Glikin, said, ‘We are thrilled to be partnering with Ryanair, Europe’s leading low cost airline. This partnership underlines the constant drive of HotelsCombined to provide the best hotel comparison service to the world’s leading websites and will be a great new service for Ryanair passengers.’

Introduction of Ryanair May Lower Ukraine Hotel Prices for UEFA Championship

Hotel prices in Ukraine are expected to fall for the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship, with the introduction of Ryanair, an Ireland-based low cost airline, said the Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister and Infrastructure Minister, Borys Kolesnikov.

Ukraine is hosting the UEFA Football Championships, along with Poland, from June 8 to July 1, 2012. Ryanair intends to offer services to the Ukrainian cities of Lviv and Donetsk from its hub in France from May 2012. Fans will able to attend matches with Ryanair on a round-trip basis, removing the need to pay for hotel accommodation, and it is expected that hotel room rates will come down in price due to the decreased demand.

In an interview, Ukrainian minister, Borys Kolesnikov, said, ‘I think that this problem will be resolved by the end of April. First, we are completing an agreement with Ryanair on its entry to the Ukrainian market, and all fans will be able to calculate the cost of a flight for every match and stay in Ukraine. And the price will be in favour of aviation. I think that price will significantly fall from that moment. It takes three-and-a-half hours to fly from London to Donetsk, and a round-trip ticket will cost $300. England will play three group stage matches in Ukraine. That is, total expenditures would be $900, if you just fly for every match. If the price of a hotel room costs more than $200, then it would be a lot more expensive to live here for ten days. I think that this will quickly cool the ardour of our hotels.’

Earlier, reports have said that UEFA president and former footballer, Michel Platini, has expressed his concern at high prices for accommodation at Ukrainian hotels during the Euro 2012 European Football Championship.

Ryanair plan to reduce fuel bills with lighter staff

With the rising oil prices eating into profits, saving fuel on flights is a major issue for airlines.

Ryanair have announced drastic actions to help reduce their load, with its in-flight magazine being reduced in size, less ice will be served in drinks and staff have been encouraged to not pile on the pounds.

In a controversial move, Stephen McNamara a spokesperson for Ryain air claimed that every little helped when it came to reducing the weight of the aircraft, including heavy staff.

He said: “We cut costs wherever possible, and the changes will represent a significant reduction in weight.

“We also considered removing armrests, but decided against it. We even encourage staff to watch their weight – with the motivation of appearing in the annual Ryanair calendar”.

The latest policy means that the firm’s in-flight magazine ‘Let’s Go with Ryanair’ will be reduced from A4 to A5 and will double as a menu. Saving the airline thousands of pounds in fuel thanks to the reduced amount of paper.

It is estimated that the carrier will save more than £400,000 in printing costs.

Other measured include reducing the amount of ice on board, and lowering the weight of trolleys and seats.

However not only Ryanair are taking measures to slim down, other airlines have replaced glass wear in first class cabins with plastic, cut the weight of metal cutlery and some airlines have gone to extreme measures by removing phones, magazine racks and rubbish bins.

Mr McNamara said: “Fuel is an integral part of the fare – you can’t fly passengers anywhere without it. We would rather make cost reductions and charge passengers for other services”.

Article by Charlotte Greenhalgh

EU commission called to stop ATC strikes

Ryanair calls on EU commission to stop ATC strikes, as thousands of passengers will potentially be affected by French ATC strikes.

Ryanair today called on the EU Commission to prevent millions of Europe’s citizens having their flights cancelled or delayed, by tiny numbers of French Air Traffic Controllers going on strike again this week.
Ryanair condemned the EU Commission’s continuing failure to act on its repeated call for the removal of the right to strike from Europe’s air traffic controllers, who repeatedly blackmail Europe’s passengers with strikes throughout the summer season. Ryanair pointed out that many of Europe’s police forces and army personnel are not allowed to strike.
Air traffic controllers in the USA are also prevented by law from striking, which means that the skies over the US cannot be closed or hijacked by ATC strikes or work to rule. The European Commission should apply similar no strike rules here in Europe.
Ryanair confirmed that yesterday’s French Air Traffic Control strike caused 134 flights to be cancelled, with a further 450 flights delayed, resulting in 88,000 Ryanair passengers having their flights disrupted on Monday through no fault of theirs or Ryanair.
Ryanair’s Stephen McNamara said:
“It is unacceptable that the skies over Europe are repeatedly closed or flights delayed by the unjustified strike action of tiny numbers of air traffic controllers. These public servants are among the most overpaid and protected in Europe and yet they repeatedly opt for the strike weapon as a first, rather than a last resort. The summer schedules in Europe are barely one week old and already the French Air Traffic Controllers are engaged in three days of strikes. The solution to this problem is simple, remove their right to strike in exactly the same way that Air Traffic Controllers in the USA are prevented by law from striking
“The EU Commission should stop talking about taking action and finally do something about these repeated and unacceptable strikes by removing the right to strike from ATC unions”.

Watchdog investigate Ryanair over £10 charges for emergency exit seats

Budget Airline Ryanair are currently being investigated by safety watchdogs after passengers were made to pay an extra £10 charge so they could sit in seats by emergency exits.

The popular seats offer more legroom for travellers, however the seats located next to the emergency exits have been left empty on hundreds of flights after travellers refused to pay the added cost.

Ryanair passengers buying standard seats are told that they can sit anywhere on the plane apart from the first four rows and the emergency exit rows in the centre.

However passengers in standard seats are still expected to be able to follow directions on the emergency procedures.

The Irish Aviation Authority and UK regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), have launched an investigation into the airline. Suggesting that Ryanair should look at its policy as the issue is described as a ‘grey area’.

The British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) has also questioned safety issues on board.

One passenger on a Ryanair flight said that he was asked to make sure that he was aware of how to open a door that he was unable to see.

“I wasn’t allowed to sit in the emergency exit row so I sat in the window seat in the row in front. Before take-off, one of the cabin crew spoke to me, and another passenger who was in the aisle seat.

“Basically, she was saying that, since we were the closest to the emergency exit, we’d have to make sure we’d read and understood the instructions for opening the doors in the middle of the plane in an emergency”.

Adding: “She said emergency row seats could only be used by people who had paid extra. It just seemed ludicrous and mean-spirited.

Stephen McNamara, the head of communications at Ryanair said: “We do not believe this to be an issue, as all Ryanair passengers are provided with the same safety and evacuation information.

“We will continue to discuss the matter with the IAA”.

Article by Charlotte Greenhalgh

Ryanair boss plans to double the size of the airline

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has revealed expansion plans that would make the company one of the biggest airlines in the world, introducing routes to Scandinavia, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

 

The budget airline chief executive has unveiled ambitious expansion plans that could see the amount of passengers double and stretch its reach across Europe.

 

Mr O’Leary announced in an interview with the Financial Times that he wants to increase passenger numbers from 72 million to between 120 – 130 million within the next decade.

 

The airline is currently in talks with US, Chinese and Russian plane manufacturers over plans to buy over 200 new aircrafts.

 

He wants the delivery of the new aircrafts to happen between 2015 and 2021, insisting they would only be purchased at ‘cheap prices’.

 

Between 2010 and 2011 the Dublin-based airline carried 72.1 million passengers, these plans could see their fleet of around 270 aircrafts double.

 

These new plans would allow the airline to use 50 of the new planes to fly passengers to and from Scandinavian destinations. Another 100 aircrafts would fly to new routes in the Baltic Sates, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

 

Mr O’Leary added that the difficult economic conditions will allow the company to increase its share in the short-haul market as the demand for low-cost travel increases.

 

The outspoken Irish man’s cost cutting suggestions have been at the centre of controversy, where incidents have included: charging to use the toilets on planes, removing a toilet, space for standing passengers and scrapping the co-pilot role.

 

Their most recent announcement was that passengers will soon have to pay for flights using their pre-paid payment method if they want to escape card charges.

 

From November, the only way customers will be able to avoid extra fees will be by using the ‘Ryanair Cash Passport’, costs could mount up to £48 for a family of four buying return flights.

 

By Charlee Greenhalgh

Ryanair plan on having just one toilet per plane

 Ryanair have revealed plans that will leave up to 200 passengers using just one toilet.

 

The plan for just one bathroom per plane will allow six more seats per plane.

 

The plans will take the ‘no frills’ air travel to a new level, but according to Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary, the change would lower air travel by around five per cent.

 

The plans are controversial and will leave passengers in long queue or crossing their legs and hoping for the best.

 

Two out of the three toilets will be removed from the planes and replaced with six more seats in order to provide cheaper fares.

 

Ryanair only use one type of plane, the Boeing 737-800, each plane hold 189 seats – at present this is the maximum allowed.

 

A spokesman for the Association of British Travel Agents said: ‘We all know how inconvenient it can be if a toilet on a plane is out of order. This move could be a step too far.’