Europe’s biggest budget airline is going after frequent flyers by selling annual subscriptions to “Ryanair Choice”.
Passengers who sign up will be able to book the lowest fares but qualify for assigned “standard” seating, fast-track airport access (where available), priority boarding and a 10kg checked bag.
The airline has also promised 24-hour advance notice of four seat sales per year.
The yearly payment is €199, which is about £175. The annual fee for British travellers, though, has been set at £199, which even by Ryanair standards is a dismal rate of exchange.
The programme bestows similar benefits as “Ryanair Plus” at a flat rate. The Independent calculates that profits will begin after seven flights on the airline in a year, compared with paying for the extras.
Ryanair’s chief marketing officer, Kenny Jacobs, rejected the suggestion that the airline was copying other airlines with a frequent-flyer scheme.
Speaking exclusively to The Independent, he said: “I wouldn’t call it a frequent-flyer scheme. You won’t get a bag tag, you won’t get access to a lounge.
“It’ll be all-digital, it’ll be done in a low-cost way. You will simply get a series of digits that you enter into your MyRyanair account.”
The scheme will not come into effect until the end of the summer. The target is for 100,000 passengers to sign up in the first year.
Ryanair has also warned that the risk of a “no-deal” Brexit is rising.
Jacobs said: “The risk of there being no flights remains until the proposal [on UK-EU operations] from Brussels is accepted or the transition agreement is signed.
He predicted that exiting the European Union would be postponed beyond 29 March 2019. But he said there was no effect on bookings: “For Joe Public here in the UK and in Europe, it’s travel as usual.”
Ryanair is warning that continuing shortages of air-traffic control staff could adversely affect punctuality this year.
“It’s shaping up to be a worse summer than last year,” said Jacobs.
“It cost us 5 per cent punctuality in January. You will feel it at the weekends, Fridays, Sundays and Mondays, and in July and August.”
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