If you’re struggling to squeeze more money out of a cash-strapped European market (and airport fees are closing in on your business), you have to get a bit creative when looking for new revenue streams.
In its latest wheeze, Ryanair (which has already floated the idea of standing-up seats and paying to use the loos in-flight) has decided that a new route between Israel’s Tel Aviv and Poland would net the market for school trips to visit Auschwitz. The firm’s deputy chief executive Howard Millar said; ‘It seems that every Israeli child has to go to Poland to go and see Auschwitz. We can help them with that.’
Millar did not go into any further detail about the low-cost airline's plans, but the revelation will no doubt be seen as good news to the children of Israel, whose existing options are rather expensive £800 return flights to distant Warsaw with Czech Airlines or Air Berlin.
His comments come just a day after the firm announced passenger traffic grew 5% to 79.3 million in the last year, helping push the budget airline’s annual pre-tax profits up 13% to €569m.
It also boosted revenues by 13% to €4.8bn (£4.1bn) in the year to March, and added more than 200 new routes to its roster, bringing the total to 1,600. The firm also plans to add another 200 routes and seven new bases this summer.
Unusually, the firm's hyperactive chief executive Michael O’Leary doesn’t appear to have passed comment on the Auschwitz route. Perhaps there are some topics that even he would regard as off-limits, after all...
UPDATE: Ryanair has asked MT to clarify that it has not yet decided on an airport in Israel. A spokesman said: 'Ryanair has had discussions with a number of Israeli airports, but they are purely exploratory at this time... We talk to many airports and always keep the door open to new route options and the best way to do that is by meeting them.'