The government of Georgia is trying to bring the Irish low-cost airline to the Georgian market. According to the Economy Minister, the negotiations are still going on with Ryanair. But the letter sent to “Commersant” by the Irish airline says that since last year there has been nothing new about the company’s entry in Georgia.
In February last year the airline told “Commersant” that Ryanair was ready to negotiate with those who are interested in low prices on their market and negotiations are continually underway with the world’s airports, but even then Ryanair didn’t talk about the entry in Georgia. Ryanair is Europe’s number one low-cost airline.
Now a few airlines fly from Georgia to the US cities and the average price of a round-trip ticket varies from GEL 1500 toGEL 2 000.
The board of Ryanair, like any PLC, have approved the business plans for future growth, including transatlantic,” the airline said in a statement.
Ryanair said it was already in talks with manufacturers about purchasing long-haul aircraft but couldn’t comment further.
Chicago, Boston, New York, London, Berlin and Dublin are understood to be among the cities included in the plan, which could come into operation in four or five years time if the airline can reach a deal to buy long-haul aircraft – most likely withAirbus or Boeing.
Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary has been discussing the possibility of low fare transatlantic flights for several years.
Addressing the Deloitte Enterprise Ireland CEO Forum last November, Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary said the airline would like to operate a low-cost transatlantic service, from 15 European cities to about 12 US cities, but that sourcing long-haul aircraft is a challenge.
Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s chief executive, has long hoped to set up a low-cost transatlantic service. The company has, until now, held off as a series of predecessors have tried and failed to make such an idea pay. Zoom Airlines, a Canadian operationlinking Gatwick and North America, had a brief existence in the last decade, while Sir Freddie Laker’s Skytrain famously went bust trying to pursue cheap flights to the US in the 1980s.
More recently, Oslo-based low-cost airline Norwegian Air Shuttle began a transatlantic service in 2013 with a return ticket from London’s Gatwick airport to New York starting at £389, although the cheapest flights can be few and far between.Gatwick boss Stewart Wingate described Norwegian’s long-haul launch as a “game-changing event”. But the costs of expanding into the US have plunged Norwegian into the red for the first time in eight years.
Ryanair’s head of marketing, Kenny Jacobs, told the Financial Times that the Irish carrier was a bigger brand and business than Norwegian and so would be able to build more traffic and a more efficient cost model.
The transatlantic route is one of the most profitable in the world, but it is dominated by long-established airlines, led by British Airways, American Airlines and Virgin Atlantic.
Despite this, John Strickland, an independent aviation consultant, said the success of Ryanair’s transatlantic venture would depend on the airline getting a good deal on the purchase or lease of planes: “It is not just any aircraft, it is about getting efficient and cost-effective aircraft, otherwise you could lose your shirt.”
A low-cost transatlantic service would also need to attract a mix of customers, he said, both cost-conscious tourists and business travelers prepared to pay more. “If you have got people travelling for business, you have got a better chance of spreading your risk.”