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Thursday, 25 June 2009

If Michael O'Leary ran the NHS

.. there would be no leaflets in 26 languages or patient consultations, but it would run on a fraction of the current budget.

Mr O'Leary has decided that while Eurostar has tried to give rail travel the look and feel of air travel, modern low-cost air travel should have the look and feel of a bus trip. To that end he has decided that there is no need for a friendly face to greet you at the airport because you can check in online.  If you can't manage that you have no place in the modern world, and having done away with such unnecessary frills as airbridges pulling up to the aircraft (£50 extra landing charges), passengers can get closer to the Greyhound bus experience by carrying their own luggage to the aircraft. After all, why pay for expensive baggage handlers and their equipment to get bags through security and onto the right plane while passengers are loafing in the departure lounge?

But lest anyone should think Ryanair's business model reached its limit when its mooted £1 pay-as-you-pee scheme was rejected in the press, here are some more initiatives:

Pay-by-weight: Extending the principle that some larger passengers pay extra for seats with more legroom, tickets would be priced according to a passengers total weight, including cabin and hold luggage. Scales with credit card slots will calculate airfares at the departure gate.

Scanner free flights: The use of expensive airport security staff will be avoided if passengers sign a disclaimer when they book their tickets. They won't see it, but it will be in the Terms and Conditions..

Near neighbours: On the principle that low cost airlines fy to airports that are nowhere near the cities from which they take their names (and passengers fall for that scam), the airline will reserve the right to cancel near-empty flights and rebook passengers onto a later same day flight to an adjoining country.

Work your passage: Ever fancied being a trolley-dolly for an hour or two? Well now's your chance, for the cost of a half-price ticket. Plus you get to wear a uniform, and men, you don't have to be gay. How cool is that?

Low maintenance flights: Addressing one of the few areas of cost that other airlines fear to consider, the airline could offer special reductions for flights on aircraft maintained outside industry standard preventative maintenance regimes or overdue for periodic overhauls and structural airframe checks. It works in Ethiopia.

What the hell - let's go for it: Economies can be made in landing and overflight charges by minimising the use of air traffic control and operating on the "go when you're ready" principle. The airline uses low traffic airports, there's probably nothing else coming or going when they want to take off. (Remember the Tufty Club? Stop, listen, look both ways and safely across.) Costs and delays could be further reduced by using the less congested military airspace where possible.

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