Say goodbye to Ryanair's €0.99 tickets due to soaring fuel prices

Ryanair

Ryanair's famous €10 fares have been scrapped and will not be seen for a "number of years" due to soaring fuel prices, the Irish budget airline's boss said.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Michael O'Leary said he expected Ryanair's average fare to rise by about 10 euros over the next five years, from around 40 euros (£33.75) last year to roughly 50 euros by 2027.

Michael O'Leary Ryanair CEO

He told the British broadcaster: "There's no doubt that at the lower end of the marketplace, our really cheap promotional fares - the one euro fares, the 0.99 euro fares, even the 9.99 euro fares - I think you will not see those fares for the next number of years."

Although the soaring fuel prices which are impacting the airline's fares are also wreaking havoc on people's disposable incomes, Mr O'Leary is confident the number of customers will remain steady.

Instead, he believes travellers will flock en masse to lower-cost alternatives such as Ryanair and EasyJet.

"We think people will continue to fly frequently," he said.

"But I think people are going to become much more price sensitive and therefore my view of life is that people will trade down in their many millions."

Airfare prices to mainland Europe this summer season have surged by nearly a third since pre-pandemic prices, or even last year's prices. For some cities, airfare prices jumped more than 250% this week compared to the same period in 2019.

In July last year, Ryanair launched €5.92 one-way tickets from London-Stansted to popular European destinations, including Athens, Lisbon, Faro, Madrid, and Seville.

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Compared to today's prices, the cheapest airfare to the mentioned cities would be a flight from London-Stansted to Faro for €71.02, followed by a one-way flight to Lisbon at €153.88, while to Athens would be €223.70, and €153.86 to Madrid.

Before the pandemic, an average family of four would probably pay around €331.38 for a flight from London's Heathrow or Gatwick to Istanbul. Such airfare prices were quite the steal then.

In current times, the price of the same family would more than double to become approximately €672.22 on average.

Though the aviation industry has long been criticized for contributing heavily to climate change, the low-cost carrier's chief argues that road and sea transport were more prominent contributors to carbon emissions.

According to O'Leary, airlines like his own have been making firm efforts in decarbonizing aviation, such as investing in more fuel-efficient aircraft such as the Boeing 737 MAX 8.

So despite the surging airfare prices, O'Leary remains confident that passengers will continue to fly as it becomes more of a convenient necessity.

However, given that the prices aren't going down anytime soon, the airline chief suggests that passengers will start to seek out lower-cost options rather than cut back on flying, highlighting:

"We think people will continue to fly frequently. But I think people are going to become much more price sensitive and therefore my view of life is that people will trade down in their many millions."

Ironically, the current situation favors the budget carrier, as in recent decades when airfare prices became cheaper as the number of flights rose.

Back then, passengers were more about taking short breaks overseas, and airlines such as Ryanair, easyJet, and Wizz Air have been competing to offer low-cost, no-frills services.

Now that flying with full-service carriers has become quite the luxury, the Irish budget carrier and its fellow low-cost competitors will again be the ideal choices for passengers.

As demand for air travel bounced back, staff shortages at airlines and airports have led to cancelations and delays. While Ryanair might win versus its competitors regarding airfare prices, the budget carrier still faces the same operational struggles that dampen the global aviation industry.

In the first six months of 2022, Ryanair canceled 0.3% of flights, compared with British Airways at 3.5% and easyJet at 2.8%.

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