Ryanair proposes standing room; announces Porto base
July 7, 2009: Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary found himself in the headlines again yesterday after telling Sky News "We might take out the last five or six rows [of seats] and say to passengers, 'Do you want to stand up? If you do, you can travel for free'."
O´Leary said he has asked Boeing to look at converting or producing aircraft with "vertical seating" and asked, "Why is this any different to what happens on trains where you see thousands of people who cannot get a seat standing in the aisles?"
A spokesperson confirmed to Agence France Presse that Ryanair and Boeing are in discussions "in relation to adapting the aircraft to allow people to travel in vertical seating." They "wouldn´t be fully standing. They would have something like a stool to lean on or to sit on." The same spokesperson told the Daily Mail, "It´s really early days but we´re looking at a 20%-30% increase in passengers on commuter routes."
Ryanair has not yet sought approval from aviation authorities. It credited Shanghai-based LCC Spring Airlines for the idea. A Spring spokesperson reportedly told China Central Television that it plans to submit its plan to regulators this year and that "it´s just like bar stools. The safety belt is the most important thing. It will still be fastened around the waist." Spring President Wang Zhenghua said the country´s Vice Premier, Zhang Dejiang, "suggested that for a lower price, passengers should be able to get on a plane like catching a bus, with no seat, no luggage consignment, no food, no water, but very convenient."
Separately, Ryanair last week announced it will open its 33rd base at Porto in September with two based aircraft and new service to Basel, Eindhoven, St. Etienne and Tours. It currently serves 12 destinations from the airport and will offer 50 weekly flights this fall. It expects to carry 1.5 million passengers through OPO per year. It also added a third and fourth 737-800 to its Bristol base and launched 11 new routes Friday. New destinations comprise Limoges, Toulon, Montpellier and Perpignan, Trieste, Rimini, Cagliari, Malta, Alicante, Barcelona Reus and Seville.
The LCC carried 5.8 million passengers in June, up 13% from the year-ago month. Load factor rose 1 point to 82%.