Ryanair is poised to become the first major low-cost carrier (LCC) to offer its passengers the benefits of interlining.
It’s something which Business Traveller predicted would happen eventually (print subscribers can read my article on the subject here) and we concluded that it would only be a matter of time before interlining came about.
Initially the new service will be trialled this summer for Ryanair flights at London Stansted and Barcelona. If the trial is a success it will be extended to other airports and airlines according to a report in today’s Irish Independent.
Interlining is where passengers can transfer airside between flights and have their baggage through checked. It’s a service which is offered by conventional carriers but, until now, it is a service which few if any LCCs provide.
Why? Simply because LCCs concern themselves only with simple services. Interlining adds cost and complexity to an airline’s operation and that’s why until now it’s been shunned by the major LCCs.
Ryanair’s new interlining facility will benefit passengers flying through the above-named airports rather than commencing or ending their journeys there.
Quoted in the Irish Independent, Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary said: “If you’re in, for example, Glasgow, Belfast or Edinburgh, and there’s no direct route from there to, say, Poznan in Poland. It will show that you can connect through Stansted with just one stop.”
“It won’t be difficult. The connecting time at Stansted might be two hours and you won’t have to come through passport control. Go back, and check-in again.”
Michael O’Leary continued: “The only complexity is can we get the bag across to the other flights without losing loads of bags. We’ll run it across a three or six-month period and see what the demand is like.”
Whether or not other major LCCs follow is the big question.
Ryanair has been in talks already with Aer Lingus about interlining, and last September we reported that Lufthansa and Easyjet had also been in discussions. (See news September 22, 2015).
Interlining can cost money but it enables LCCs to grow their business. Conventional carriers can benefit with cost savings and greater coverage (LCCs serve many secondary destinations in Europe which have either been neglected or abandoned by the big national airlines).
Finally note that Ryanair has not announced an exact start date for this initiative so we await news with interest.
And it must be stressed that the benefits will be for transfer (rather than origin and destination) passengers.