Budget airlines. Love them or hate them, over the last decade they have enabled millions of us to afford to fly to Europe for a summer getaway. From city breaks to a week by the beach, they transport more of us from the UK than any other carrier; in fact Easyjet is the UK’s largest airline by passenger numbers. Way back in 2000, low-cost carriers accounted for just 8.6% of the market, but by last year that number had risen to 52% of UK airline passengers. Traditionally they have operated from the UK to mainland Europe’s top destinations. Last week Michael O’Leary – Ryanair’s always colourful CEO – made an announcement which could prove as disruptive for transatlantic flights as the budget airlines have been for European travel, with his intention for Ryanair to launch €10 (£8.20) one way flights to New York. Michael O’Leary said “We can make money on 99-cent fares in Europe”. Before going on to say “not every seat will be €10 of course, there will also need to be a very high number of business or premium seats.”
But do we want ‘budget flights’ on long-haul routes? Being cramped in with little leg room on a relatively short hop across to Spain, Italy or Greece is one thing, but how many of us will put up with it for the seven and a half hours to New York? Then there is the price. Michael O’Leary let us know that for €10 we will be paying extra for everything from baggage to printed tickets, meals and drinks. Factor in the ‘hidden’ costs of taxes and how much cheaper will it be? And will it be worth it?
This week we have been running a poll on our Facebook page to ask whether you would consider flying to the USA with a budget carrier. So far we have had a pretty even split, with 53% voting yes and 47% voting no. So the question goes out for you to debate with us, would you fly to the US with a budget carrier?
First we asked our panel for their views on budget airlines, and whether they would choose to fly to the US with a budget carrier, do you agree?