Ryanair considering transatlantic flights in five years

image copyrightPA
image captionRyanair first mooted plans for transatlantic flights in 2008.

Budget airline Ryanair says it hopes to offer flights between Europe and the US in four to five years.

The Irish airline said its board had approved transatlantic flights as part of its plans for future growth, but warned it could take up to five years to become a reality.

"It's dependent on attaining viable long-haul aircraft and we estimate that's four to five years away," a spokesman told the BBC.

Ryanair first aired the plans in 2008.

Analysis: Richard Westcott, transport correspondent

Ryanair wants to fly across the Atlantic because it's a money-spinner...if you can get it right.

Mind you, the long list of companies that have tried and failed to make low-cost long-haul work, starting with Freddie Laker in the Seventies, shows that it's easier said than done.

The low-cost business model currently relies on flying very full planes relatively short distances, then turning them around as quickly as humanly possible and sending them the other way again.

All while offering the bare minimum on board. Long-haul is different. People have more bags in the hold for one thing, so turnaround is slower.

Ryanair will also need new long-distance planes. And then they'll have to muscle their way past the gang of airlines already flying this lucrative route.

Interestingly, Easyjet's boss Carolyn McColl recently told the BBC: "We have no intention to do long-haul because we think it's a different kind of business." She also said it was "high risk" to change their short-haul strategy.

Having said all of that, who would put anything past the all-conquering Ryanair?

The airline said it is currently talking to plane manufacturers about purchasing long-haul aircraft, but said it couldn't comment further on this.

"European consumers want lower cost travel to the USA and the same for Americans coming to Europe. We see it as a logical development in the European market," the spokesman added.

It said it would like to offer low-cost flights between 12 to 14 European cities and the same number of US cities.

Currently, the transatlantic route is dominated by long-established airlines, with British Airways and American Airlines the main players.

Oslo-based low-cost airline Norwegian Air Shuttle began a service to the US in 2013, but recently blamed the costs of its expansion, including disputes with US regulators, for its first loss in eight years.

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