Low-cost airline Ryanair has said it is planning flights to the US from the UK for less than £7.
The Irish airline intends to make the most of the ‘open-skies’ agreement signed between the US and Europe to launch services to a number of secondary airports such as Long Island in New York, Rhode Island in New England and Baltimore.
Flights would also operate to other US destinations including Florida, Dallas and San Francisco under plans outlined by the airline today.
Under the open-skies deal, more US-Europe flights will be allowed from March 2008.
Ryanair said it was looking at purchasing a fleet of up to 50 long-haul planes to get the service up and running in the next three to four years, but would be waiting for the price of aircraft to drop.
The US-bound flights would operate from existing Ryanair hubs in Europe, including London Stansted and Dublin, but would be run as a separate airline.
The long-haul carrier will have its own executives and brand name, and will not allow for cross-ticketing or connecting luggage with Ryanair.
Ryanair‘s Chief Executive Michael O’Leary said the cheapest fares would be 10 euros (£6.80) and he expects sales of food, drink, goods and in-flight entertainment to be a major earner.
He told air industry magazine Flight International: ‘By mid 2009, we will be carrying 70 million passengers at 23 bases across Europe.
‘It will be relatively straightforward for us to do a deal for 40-50 long-haul aircraft and connect these bases transatlantically. There would be no-one to touch us.’
He told the magazine the new airline would also have a premium class pitched against the likes of Virgin Atlantic.
UK budget airline Zoom has already sparked a possible transatlantic air fares war by announcing a London-New York service starting at £129 one-way.
The airline, owned by Scots Hugh and John Boyle, will begin New York flights from Gatwick on 21 June.
Zoom, which operates from five UK airports to Canada, said it planned to become the UK’s leading low-cost transatlantic carrier.
No frills travel
Lawrence Hunt, Chief Executive of new transatlantic airline Silverjet, warned budget carriers would find it hard to make a profit on routes to the US.
He said: ‘Any budget airline launching into this market is going to find it incredibly difficult to generate profits.
‘We offer a business-only service to New York and while we welcome the competition we are safe in the knowledge that, as well as a £7 ticket, they’ll also be bringing a £7 service.
‘I’m sure passengers are prepared to tolerate some of the frustrations of no frills travel on a short flight but it’s a different matter altogether when you’re on a plane for eight hours or more.’
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