- Discount carrier takes first step into corporate-jet market
- Converted Boeing 737 features 60 reclining business berths
Ryanair Holdings Plc, once notorious for its bleak cabins and indifferent attitude to customer service, has stepped up its push to attract a better class of customer by fitting out one of its planes as a corporate jet.
The customized Boeing Co. 737-700 will be operated by Ryanair crew and feature 60 all-leather reclining seats, each with a four-foot pitch, the Irish company said Wednesday. It usually crams 189 people onto the larger 737-800.
The spruced up aircraft will offer “fine-dining catering facilities” and is being targeted at companies, sports teams, governments and general group travel, Ryanair said, without disclosing the rental price. The -700 variant is the only one of its kind in the fleet and was previously used for crew training.
“We’re talking with a lot of corporates about flying with Ryanair and this is an extension of that,” spokesman Robin Kiely said. “It’s a great option to have, particularly in the summer when demand for charters is high but our aircraft are all busy.” Other jets could be converted given enough demand, he added.
Ryanair has been distancing itself from the ultra-no-frills approach for the past two years, improving its website, offering more services to primary airports and providing paid-for extras to entice business passengers and families. The repositioning strategy, known as Always Getting Better, helped the company attract more than 100 million passengers for the first time in 2015.
The charter plane will have a range of six hours and customers will be charged for its use by the hour. Ryanair didn’t specify how much the rate will be but Kiely said the carrier “will not be beaten on cost.”
Ryanair has provided charter aircraft in the past to clients such as Irish rugby team Munster. While the converted jet is currently in Dublin it will have no particular base and serve whatever airport pairs a client dictates, Kiely said.