Ryanair wants to sell flights on other airlines on its site
Ryanair, which recently adopted a (relatively) more customer-friendly approach, is also changing its tactics toward some of its competitors.
But it’s not losing its power to get media attention.
Its first quarter results released yesterday included a video Q&A – which comes across as scripted rather than spontaneous – with chief executive Michael O’Leary and chief financial officer Neil Sorohan.
It confirms that the airline is still on track to launch its previously announced personalized web site this October.
This is a fairly straightforward upgrade to its online presence, with registered users having their details on file to speed up booking.
Ryanair also gets the ability to communicate with bookers during the pre-trip phase and present them with targeted offers around hotels, car hire and other add-ons.
But, perhaps interestingly, when asked for an update on the price-comparison feature of the new site, O’Leary reveals:
“We’re keen that the major airlines in Europe would offer price comparison on each other’s web sites. We’ve written to their chief executives of Europe’s other big four airlines asking them to reciprocate.
“We would show their prices, they would show ours.”
This co-operative approach would have been unheard of during O’Leary’s “fire and brimstone” period when he was constantly at odds with his close and not-so-close competitors.
He is confident that the price comparison feature will be neutral in terms of capturing each other’s business:
“Given that we’re essentially full most the time with a load factor in the nineties, it’s not like we can take a lot of passengers from them.
“In fact, we may spill some traffic to them when Ryanair flights are full.”
Ryanair comfortable with giving rivals access to its passengers? Has hell just frozen over? Apparently not.
“It’s something the airlines could and should be working on together. It makes no sense to have third party price comparison sites out there – if the airlines were competitive and had a competent digital offering then these parties shouldn’t exist.”
Despite its seemingly honourable intentions, O’Leary did admit that Ryanair has not had any response from the airlines it has approached.
The video also offers an update on its legal battle with Hertz, which pulled its car hire inventory from Ryanair.com earlier this month.
O’Leary said that Ryanair was talking to major car hire firms and brokers about replacing Hertz as its preferred supplier and that a bid process is under way. He expects to have car hire back on ryanair.com by the start of October.
When asked if losing car hire bookings for busy second quarter (July through to September) would impact the business, Sorahan said that not only was the cost “not hugely material” but that “through the legal action we are comfortable that we can recoup a lot of this.”
Topline findings from the Q1s show that, compared with the same period last year, passengers were up 16% to 28 million; load factors up 6% to 92%; revenues up 10% to Euro 1,653 million; net profit after tax up 25% to Euro 245 million.
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