The man tasked with improving the image of Ryanair has hinted at plans to launch a holiday brand within the next five years.
Chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs said in an interview with TTG that it would be a “logical” move for the no-frills carrier, which already sells hotels and car hire, in a bid to capture more of the leisure market.
“If it becomes Ryanair Holidays at a point in time, it is a logical way for the brand to go,” he said. “We do a version of it already. We can certainly do it better than we do. The way customers are responding to the new improved Ryanair, I think it will go forward.”
However, Jacobs insisted that any such venture would not necessarily be an imminent move. “I can see us launching this in the next five years. People will say you will not have been able to do that with the old Ryanair.
"We will always be a low-cost airline, but we are a travel business. We are starting to open our eyes to that opportunity"
“We will always be a low-cost airline, but we are a travel business. We are starting to open our eyes to that opportunity.”
The news follows a change in Ryanair’s position with the trade, after the famously “anti-agent” airline announced it was returning to be sold on GDS’s earlier this year, following 10 years of shunning travel agents.
Joint owner of Essex-based Gallivant Travel Celia Lemos said the change in stance was already paying off. “I used to dread calling Ryanair if we needed to make a change to a booking – I even used to pretend I wasn’t a travel agent,” she said.
“But I’ve noticed a real change in their manner this year. I had to call them recently to change the name on a booking – I thought it would be exorbitant like it used to be, but they just charged the £10 admin fee. They’re much more open now.”
However, others in the trade, including the first agency to ever sell Ryanair flights, remained more sceptical about the no-frills carrier’s attitude and its new holiday brand plans.
Steve Pattenden, owner of Double S Travel, which started selling Ryanair tickets when the airline launched in 1985, said: “A long time ago we used to sell so much Ryanair but we stopped when they decided they no longer wanted to deal with travel agents.
“Why would we want to get into bed with them now? I would sell easyJet Holidays because they work with the trade, but I don’t trust Ryanair at all. They might say they want to work with agents now just to solve their problems for the next 12 months, but would they really change after 20 years? I don’t think so.”