Ryanair has revealed further details of its new corporate tickets aimed at business travellers.
Set to go onsale at the end of August, they will include flexible tickets, fast-track at select airports and free premium allocated seating.
The airline has gradually been adapting its practices to better target business travellers, following the lead of Easyjet, including allocated seating (see news, February 3).
Lesley Kane, Ryanair's head of corporate sales, said the focus on corporate travellers is to enable the carrier to meet its aim of carrying up to 112 million passengers by 2019.
She told Business Traveller: "To achieve that we are looking to some key new parts of the market that will support that growth. That includes families, where we launched a family extra product in June [click here for more information].
"We've also launched a groups offering back in January, and then the corporate travel product which will launch in the last week in August."
Kane said that the new business product has been developed as a result of feedback from corporate customers, with a flexible ticket allowing travellers to change their flight without paying fees, or boarding an earlier aircraft, if available.
It will also allow fast-track through security at key business airports such as Dublin, Barcelona, Stansted and Manchester, as well as free premium seat selection and priority boarding, allowing travellers to have the choice of boarding first or last.
In addition, Ryanair is planning for a corporate support desk to resolve any issues experienced by business travellers.
The airline has already started to distribute its tickets via Travelport and is looking at other GDS partnerships, allowing tickets to be bought through business travel agents (see news on our sister website Buying Business Travel, March 11), as well as though ryanair.com.
Kane defended Ryanair's record on disruptions and the support given to travellers who experience delays and cancellations.
She said: "Ryanair has the most on-time flights in Europe, with over 90 per cent or more arriving on time. We have the least cancelled flights, and if there is disruption we are bound by Regulation EU261. All passengers are advised of their rights and it is printed on their boarding cards."
Kane also confirmed that, far from seeking to avoid its responsibilities under the Regulation, Ryanair:
- Provided with a direct link to EU261 notice in PDF format when checking in online
- Passengers confirm receipt of the EU261 notice prior to checking-in online
- A link to the Article 14.2 notice is included in the flight cancellation email sent to affected customers and in addition (available here)
- The notice is displayed at all Ryanair Bag Drop Desks and is also distributed by airport staff in the event of a flight cancellation or delay over 3 hours.
Kane said: "We are no different from the other airlines and we have a requirement to offer support and help and accommodation, if necessary.
"In addition, on high-frequency routes such as Stansted to Milan, Rome, Barcelona or Madrid, where there are four or five departures each day, there's a good chance we can offer alternate flights if there is a problem."
Ryanair's choice of airports is also being reconsidered, said Kane, with a focus on "a stronger mix" of primary over secondary airports, although she pointed out that Ryanair already flies to Barcelona, Madrid, Rome Ciampino, London Stansted, Manchester and Edinburgh, which are all number one airports in their catchment.
The airline is also adding Athens, Brussels Zaventum, Rome Fiumicino, Dortmund, Cologne, Lisbon — all key business airports.
She said: "From the winter schedule, which is the end of November, we will also have a number of key destinations such as Stansted to Mardi, Barcelona, Rome, Lisbon — all high-frequency, two, three, four services a day."
Ryanair has also brought in a two-bag rule, with a trolley bag weighing up to 10kg and a second free carry-on bag including a laptop bag (see news, February 3). The airline guarantees the first 90 bags and the rest are checked into the hold as necessary.
Kane rejected the suggestion that this might cause delays, saying the airline's on-time punctuality record had not been affected since it was introduced in December 2013.
The new corporate fares will not include priority bag drop ("since the majority of business travellers do not check-in bags") or a loyalty programme ("loyalty programmes mean high fares").
To read a review of a Ryanair flight in economy on a B737-800, click here.