One of the delights of 21st century travel is the ability to reach almost any destination at low, low prices (a delight, that is, provided you require no more than 30 inches of leg room, are no wider than 16 inches and have less than 10kg of luggage). But for Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary, fresh from his Ice Bucket Challenge dousing, almost everywhere clearly isn’t good enough.
O’Leary told the Irish Independent yesterday he wants Ryanair to establish a big presence in Israel, which has apparently been denied the full joys of the no-frills revolution.
He has also surprised industry watchers by announcing a new 'Business Plus' ticket which will allow such undreamed of luxuries as being able to switch to another flight on the same day, and a positively herculean 20kg baggage allowance. There are even rumours of 'improved seating' subject to availability, but don't expect any lay flat beds just yet.
Rival Easyjet is among those carriers currently serving the Middle Eastern nation, but not on the ‘much bigger’ scale –and, flyers will be hoping, at the presumably much lower prices –that O’Leary intends. The Ryanair boss said, however, that bureaucratic intransigence from the Israeli authorities had slowed his plans (bleating about red tape being one of the Irishman's favourite pastimes).
‘The difficulty is that once you go outside Europe you need to have, in this case, an Israeli air operator's certificate,’ O’Leary said, adding: ‘the Israeli authorities have got much more nervous about protecting El-Al (the country's main airline) from competition because of the recent events.’
Israel's transport ministry said Ryanair hadn't actually applied for a permit yet, though, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
O’Leary also said Ryanair had plans to launch flights into Russia (where EasyJet already goes of course), for which he anticipates ‘significant demand’. It is not clear where the limits of Ryanair’s empire will eventually fall but, so far at least, no plans for low-cost terminals have been announced for either Iraq or Ukraine.