Ryanair has watered down its approach to traveling by air by ending charges for checked bags for some of its fares as an attempt to attract the business travelers who have shied away from the discount carrier.
The largest discount carrier in Europe announced on Wednesday a new Business Plus ticket that would offer fast tracking through security, free changes to flights and premium seats close to exits.
Kenny Jacobs the Chief Marketing Officer said the airline’s customer experience was rough around the edges in a few spots but the airline had smoothed them off.
The new changes could mean more misery for other airlines that never fully have accepted the meteoric rise of Ryanair from just a small and regional carrier to a giant on the continent.
Unable to replicate fully its business model that is ultra-low cost, most airlines that are full service have not been able to cut prices enough to stop the exodus of their passengers and continue to turn a profit.
Those traveling on business have been amongst those willing to pay higher for travel perks the other airlines offer.
Shares at Ryanair increased by 3.2% in Wednesday trading on London, compared to only 1.8% for the airline index.
Ryanair must capture additional business travelers if it wants to achieve its goal by 2022 of flying more than 120 million passengers annually.
The airline estimates that close to 20 million of its more than 83 million passengers annually, are business travelers. To achieve its target, its goal is to increase business travelers to as high as 36 million.
Charges at Ryanair for checked baggage broke with the standard practice in the industry when the airline introduced them in 2006.
That fee has since increased from £2.50 to up to £75 for some flights. Similar charges have been now adopted on some flights that are short haul by most of the other airlines in Europe.
The charges helped to keep prices of tickets low, so eliminating them for baggage that weighed as much as 20 kilos would come at a price for its customers.