Newspaper article International New York Times

Airline Revisits Trans-Atlantic Trips

Newspaper article International New York Times

Airline Revisits Trans-Atlantic Trips

Article excerpt

The service is at least four years away, but the prospect can only cause new anxiety for Europe's biggest carriers.

Nearly a decade after it first floated the idea of $10 flights between London and New York, Ryanair, Europe's largest discount airline, is once again dangling the possibility of ultracheap travel across the Atlantic.

The service is still at least four years in the future, and it might be that talk of such rock-bottom fares is nothing more than a promotional gimmick. Still, the prospect of Ryanair eventually entering the trans-Atlantic market can only cause new anxiety for Europe's biggest carriers as they struggle to compete against nimbler rivals at home and abroad.

"It's the kind of thing that ought to make the European majors quake in their boots," said Peter Morris, chief economist at Ascend, an aviation consulting firm based in London.

On Monday, Ryanair, based in Dublin, confirmed reports that its board had approved a loose plan to begin operating "low-cost" flights between two dozen cities in Europe and the United States around the turn of the decade.

"European consumers want lower-cost travel to the U.S.A., and the same for Americans coming to Europe," the airline said in a statement. "We see it as a logical development in the European market." It declined to comment further on the board's move, which was first reported by The Financial Times.

Michael O'Leary, Ryanair's chief executive, has long wanted to bring the airline's success to the lucrative routes linking Europe and North America. But until now, Ryanair has seemed to prefer watching from the sideline.

Norwegian Air Shuttle, based in Oslo, began flying trans- Atlantic in 2013 and now operates discounted flights to a half- dozen American cities, including New York and Los Angeles, from European bases in Copenhagen, Stockholm and Gatwick Airport, near London, with one-way fares as low as $244. …

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