Ryanair, the self-styled “ultra low cost” carrier, has come up with a new scheme to save time and money: building a plane with wider doors.Michael O’Leary, the airline’s chief executive, is talking to a Chinese aircraft manufacturer about a bespoke jet that would allow passengers to be herded on and off Ryanair flights in double-quick time.
The scheme is the latest in a long line of money-saving initiatives dreamt up by Mr O’Leary, including standing-room-only tickets and removing lavatories bar one to increase the number of seats.
Ryanair revealed yesterday it was in talks with the state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China over a prototype with wider doors.
“The Chinese are willing to listen to what we want,” said Ryanair’s chief financial officer, Howard Millar. “A plane manufactured by Boeing or Airbus is a one-size-fits-all. We want two people to walk through the door.”
Ryanair has admitted it will have to suppress its desire to crank up fares this year as the eurozone crisis and higher fuel costs put pressure on profits.
The carrier expects average fares to rise just 3pc over the course of 2012 compared with last year’s blockbuster 16pc jump, as austerity and recession in Europe force it to exercise restraint.
Pre-tax profit fell 28pc to €112.5m (£87.8m) in the first quarter as Ryanair couldn’t raise ticket prices enough to overcome a 27pc jump in its fuel costs.
The average fare rose 4pc to €44 during the period, but Mr Millar said price rises would be limited to 3pc for the full year as austerity-hit households struggle to make ends meet.
“We are being impacted by the eurozone crisis, there is no doubt about that,” said Mr Millar.
“Clearly we would love it if we could increase average fares to cover the higher fuel costs, but in the present economic environment, with austerity and recession, that’s not possible to do.”
Revenues rose 11pc to €1.3bn as Ryanair carried an extra 1.2m passengers in the first quarter and “ancillary revenues”, such as sales of food and travel insurance, were 15pc higher.
Mr Millar repeated the airline’s interest in Stansted airport, saying it had been approached by a number of consortia about joining a bid.
Ryanair is interested in taking a 25pc stake in the Essex airport. Air France KLM said second-quarter losses quadrupled to €895m as it set aside €368m for restructuring costs.
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