Ryanair is considering banning check-in luggage as part of a new system where passengers would have to carry their bags all the way to the tarmac beside the aircraft.
Yesterday, chief executive Michael O'Leary detailed proposals where customers would pass all of their bags through security checks, currently used just for hand luggage, and then carry them through terminals to their flight.
The budget airline says the plans could save €20m, through not paying baggage handlers, which would be passed on to consumers.
However, there is no timeline on when the plans could be introduced, nor what airports the system could operate in.
It is envisaged that passengers would be allowed unlimited carry-on baggage for free, subject to airport regulations, said Mr O'Leary.
Customers would carry their baggage through the airport, check it into the cargo hold at the steps of the aircraft and collect it as they disembark at their destination.
The exact details of how the system would work remains unclear. Mr O'Leary said that when overhead lockers in cabins become full, any remaining hand baggage will be stowed in the cargo hold. However, it is possible this could, at least initially, result in unwanted delays.
A Ryanair spokesman said last night that the system would be similar to using a bus. The airline claims 70pc of its passengers do not check in any baggage when travelling.
A spokesman for the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) said the body would need to look at proposals before commenting.
Mr O'Leary also hinted that the airline may impose a ban on passengers carrying skis, although he added that details remained to be ironed out on the proposal.
He said that the airline plans to get rid of airport check-in by October, 2010, to complete the migration to online check-in. This is part of a plan to cut back on airport services and to reduce costs while minimising the time passengers spend in airports.
An in-flight online gambling system is also being considered, although there are no details of what this will be.
The moves come as Ryanair chairman David Bonderman offloaded €1m worth of shares in the airline, reducing his stake to 0.93pc. Mr O'Leary recently sold €19m worth of shares in the company less than three weeks ago.
Ryanair also said it is suspending expansion at its nine UK bases as part of its lengthy campaign against government-imposed passenger taxes.
The no-frills airline claimed that a combination of a stg£10 passenger tax introduced in the UK and what it described as high airport charges levied by airport operator BAA have resulted in 4.5 million fewer passengers at UK airports within the past five months. It will be grounding about 20 aircraft at Stansted this winter.
From The Belfast Telegraph