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Where would we be without Ryanair?

The Local · 17 Aug 2009, 15:44

Published: 17 Aug 2009 15:44 GMT+02:00

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Reading Ben Kersley’s article in The Local (The lost art of travel: Catching the ferry to Britain - Aug 10th) got me thinking about travel to and from Sweden.

Ben knocks Ryanair and makes the comment “…. everybody hates Ryanair”. Not everybody hates Ryanair, but many like to claim that they do – especially us Brits, who are more snobbish than other Europeans and would like to be seen as more sophisticated travelers and many will not even admit that they fly with them when they do.

I have spent 40 years working in the aviation industry, and sure I would like to travel today the way that I did 30 years ago, flying around the world on national airlines in First or Business, being pampered by attentive cabin crew who had four day layovers in the same five star hotels that I stayed in.

Then the company was paying and executives expected high end travel as a perk. The majority of air travel was on business and there was standard pricing on all routes and it did not matter who you flew with, the cost was the same. The ticket agent just calculated the price from the standard IATA fare book, your choice was the class you travelled and the airline that you flew with.

When you travelled abroad for leisure, you either went by train/boat/bus or took an Inclusive Tour to the Med with the ‘bucket and spade’ brigade. On the IT flights you never had the level of comfort of scheduled flying, a “knees to your chin” 28/29 inch seat pitch, instead of the 33-40 on the scheduled airlines and a plastic meal instead of 4 courses served on porcelain.

The problem with IT was that they where always a package tour, hotel and flight included. Tour operators were not allowed to sell seats only, that was the preserve of the scheduled airlines. This meant that travelers who just wanted to fly from A to B to visit friends and relations and stay free, had to bite the bullet and pay the high prices charged by the scheduled airline cartel or find a less expensive way to travel.

In the 80s, when living in the UK, I, like Ben, made the trip between the UK and Sweden by boat, using the DFDS 24 hour crossing from Harwich to Gothenburg to visit my wife’s family. The boat, including the best cabin, cost less than half the price charged by SAS. In those days most Swedes would not think of flying for leisure, unless it was a package tour to the Med. Our Swedish visitors when we lived in the UK during the 80s and early 90s came by boat.

The whole European aviation scene changed in 1996 when the EU “Open Skies” deregulation of the scheduled airline business was enacted. This allowed airlines such as Ryanair to compete with the national carriers through Europe.

It is no coincidence that the first route that Ryanair opened in 1997, after they where free to compete, was Stansted to Skavsta. There where two factors which made it the best decision.

1. Scandinavia has always been the most expensive place to fly to in the world, on a rate per mile basis, with the Swedish/Norwegian/Danish state-sheltered monopoly of SAS. Ryanair was counting on a large potential market for cheap air travel from Sweden.

2. The end of the Cold War resulted in the de-commissioning of a number of military airfields, such as Skavsta, which where handed over to the local municipality to operate and try to get some income from.

Ryanair was able to establish a relationship with Skavsta that was in the interest of both parties. Ryanair gained favourable charges at the airport and a destination close to the main population centre, while Nyköping municipality gained ancillary business, and new employment opportunities.

Swedes and ex-pats living in Sweden have gained at lot by the arrival of Ryanair. With the ability to fly to and from Sweden at a fraction of the price still charged by SAS.

Story continues below…

Between 1997 and 2002 I was able to make more visits to Sweden than ever before at a fraction of the cost even of the boat (which suffered so much from Ryanair’s competition that the Harwich – Gothenburg route closed down). Since moving to Sweden in 2003, I am able to make several visits a year to see the family still in the UK without breaking the bank.

Granted the experience of flying with Ryanair is not great. The hidden charges are annoying, the cabin crew are not the best and the seat pitch is back to the “knees to your chin” IT flights. But, if you just want to get from A to B for the cheapest price (about a quarter of the price of SAS) then Ryanair is the way to go. I can suffer for two hours; I just think of the money I’m saving.

With a large aircraft base and 39 destinations from Skavsta, Ryanair must have found that Swedes love Ryanair. Well maybe they don’t love them – just the low fares that leave them more money in their pocket for a drink at their destination.

Rick Methven lives in Sweden and is the owner of the Aerocom Aviation Software company.

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

17:44 August 17, 2009 by Nora
I am completely agree with you. 2 hours can be tolerated while you know you're saving some money (of course these airlines aims mid-class people). And by the way, don't forget the chance that Ryanair gives to students and younger people to discover different destinations.
22:16 August 17, 2009 by Anotherbrit
Ryanair is life changing for many people.
23:40 August 17, 2009 by Somebody17
Totally agree, as long as they don't loose my luggages :))))...but this is valid for all airlines.

The problem with Ryanair is that they fly to secondary airports an have awfull flights hours :P.
07:57 August 18, 2009 by The Traveller Returns
As a traveller of any kind, it's all about taking the rough with the smooth. If you want easy access airports and good flight times, you have to pay for it.

I mix my Ryanair with SAS to easyjet to KLM. If your 10,000 feet in the air, nobody should really complain. It's pretty amazing to fly and should be appreciated every time.
13:39 August 18, 2009 by Texrusso
2 hours at the airport can be very expensive. Shoping, eating and drinking more expensive than the ticket. Often you u need to travel long distances to reach a Ryanair low cost airport. My calculation is that the total cost is equal to buy a normal airfare and fly straight to your destination.
13:48 August 18, 2009 by Beofile
What a narrow minded point of view!

Aeroplanes are very expensive to buy or lease and quite horrifically expensive to operate.

Firstly don't you think that if a ferry boat ride costs 2500 SKr then a seat on an aircraft must cost more considering the convenience?

I travel between UK and Sweden all the time and the Ryanair phenomonen is nothing more than marketing. I have only once found a flight cheaper than SAS that goes from the wrong airport to the wrong airport arriving at midnight when there is no public transport. Totally useless! I always check all airline ticket prices and Ryanair is nearly always the most expensive. Don't take the published fare, add in all the extras and then make the comparison.
16:27 August 18, 2009 by althegreatest
They certainly grab the attention of naive fliers or should i say first time fliers. How in this world is it possible for a flight to be 5pounds including all taxes if the average taxes of UK airports is 40pounds. Scanderlous i say they should be banned from adverting with such deceiving material.With all the extra charges afterwards and everything else that goes on within these so called Budget airlines i'd rather pass.I heard they were going to introduce coin machines for their toilets...
16:44 August 18, 2009 by Beofile

What Ryanair has done however is reduce an industry that was in good times turning a profit of maybe 1 or 2% on an investment of millions of pounds into nothing but a total disaster. You publish that they put the DFDS ferry out of business like you are proud of it? Why? It is very bad news.

Collectively the worlds airlines have lost more money than they have earned since Sir Frank Whittle invented the jet engine! They are now haemorrhaging funds like you would not believe and many more will go under. Maybe even BA, SAS or Ryanair?

Ryanair employ slave labour tactics for their crews making them pay for all their training, uniforms, ID's, in fact everything, even a bottle of water on the flight deck!!! Pilots are permitted by law to fly no more than 900 flying hours a year (which is a lot) for safety reasons. Ryanair pilots get rostered to fly 900 a year as the norm! Most can take no more than 5 years of this punishment then move elsewhere
18:15 August 18, 2009 by eZee.se
I cant believe people still fall for this..

honestly, unless you live right next to the departing cities airport and are going to be staying right next to the arriving cities airport.. you are going to get screwed with RA's flim flam advertised prices.

Ohh, better eat well and drink all the liquids you want before you fly as well... or you're gonna be tapped for more cash..

also, dont forget to socialize before you fly because the staff are as rude as possible and your fellow passengers are pretty much like you... just waiting to get off the damn flight at the destination to get 'the trip' over with, kind of like a rape victim waiting for the ordeal to finish. Theres nothing fun about flying with RyanAir and a lot of times you are going to feel cheated once you finish your flight and do the math.

As a student i flew on RA a few times - more experienced now so I would rather throw the 150kr more and fly on a DECENT airline.

My $0.02
18:19 August 18, 2009 by Beofile

All of this has introduced the idea that flying is cheap and you should be able to fly around the world for £50! It isn't and aviation stands alone in the world of business as the only industry that sells a product at less than the cost of producing it.

It is not real like the world of finance was not real and hopefully one day the world will wake up to some hard facts.

Sorry, but to condone a company that uses exploitation of their employees and deception of their customers as a business model whilst destroying the lives of many others in the process is just ignorant
18:36 August 18, 2009 by "green Swede"
At the end of the day the op is right,you can sit me on a beer crate and insult me from one end of the flight to the other but the price is simply unbeatable.people keep mentioning the hidden charges,first of all they are not hidden,secondly most of those who moan,go on to press accept regardless, and putting things in perspective,I wanted to get a return flight from gb to dusseldorf for two adults and 2 kids,best any of the established airlines could do, all in was between 7-9000sek,ryanair ALL in was under 1800sek.btw i don't work for em.
19:20 August 18, 2009 by Liadora
I love Ryanair!!

If it wasn't for Ryanair I would never have been able to fly to Sweden 8 times so far this year. I simply can't afford to use the more expensive airlines on a regular basis.

And I honestly can't say I have met with any bad service either. Sure it's all a bit basic, but hey, you get what you pay for! Plus the staff were always nice to me and my little one. 'Cept the guy walking up and down the aisle with a bin bag shouting "Empties, any empties" He was a bit miserable...I wonder why? :D


Eek! The whole staff exploitation thing you wrote about has put a dent in my enthusiasm. I have resolved to call my Ryanair hostess budy and find out how bad it is. Tho, in all fairness...as a chef I once worked in a resteraunt that charged us for uniforms, lunch and our transport home at 1am and I paid for my education to be a chef in the 1st place, I don't think I was hard done by.

23:01 August 18, 2009 by Nemesis
Ryanair is a disaster. Ryanair have refused to take disabled people in wheelchairs in the past. They have so many hidden charges that they are actually quite expensive.

I fly from Dublin to Copehagen and sometimes to Stockholm with SAS. SAS are helpful, plesant, competant, efficent and make the flight a pleasure. One payment, no hidden extra's and a good baggage allowance.

I stopped flying with Ryanair when they tried to justify not tkaing disabled people on the plane at stanstead airport. I always travel home with presents for my parents and family along two weeks clothes. Ryanairs luggage restrictions preclude that.

Ryanair luggage restrictions only suit people going to nudist colonies or stag / hen parties.

They are useless for business. Try bringing an industrial sample by Ryanair

The hidden charges actually make Ryanair more expensive than SAS.

Ryanair used to have a good business model, but now they have got greedy and that will destroy them eventually.
23:27 August 18, 2009 by potato man
Ryanair are an enigma.

Their provision of affordable inter-european travel has made possible the true integration of the continent for ordinary citizens.

What a shame then that they do so in such a petty, parsimonious and frankly hostile way.

On a personal note; Please, please bring back the Dublin - Goteborg route Mr. O' Leary.
12:11 August 19, 2009 by rosven
I have been trying to get some sort of response from Ryanair on why they scrapped the Dublin-Göteborg route and to my total amazement Ashley Casey who I think is the Ryanair Area Manager for the Scandinavian countries emailed me back to say " With regard to the Dublin route this was ceased due to reductions at our Dublin base in response to the Irish Governments introduction of a €10 tourist tax ". To me this is total bulls**t. I used to fly this route 3 times a year and the flight was always nearly full but now I have to fly Dublin-Stansted-Göteborg. How can Ryanair justfy scrapping this route to Sweden's second city with a population of in excess of 500,000 with an even larger catchment area. I am trying to start a petition for any of you or your friends who want the Dublin-Göteborg route back as I now have Ashley Casey's email address. So please PM me if you want to be included in the petition.
14:41 August 19, 2009 by UKLady
Not a fan of flying full stop and would rather take the boat - but since the Harwich - Gothenberg ferry has gone kaput (thanks, RyanAir) I have to fly.

I have travelled Cattle Air about half a dozen times and it gets worse with each flight taken. The last being summer 2008 - a tired, cranky little boy (half days journey to get to the out of the way airport, frantic checking in, rude staff, excess baggage due to my sons travel bag - no joke - and hanging about in dank,badly lit, smelly, dirty buildings before take-off). Oh, did I mention too, the stampede to get on the plane - just great trying to carry a folded down buggy to place at the foot of the plane, whilst juggling my handluggage and holding my son, all the while being jostled by adults who couldnt give a flying ***k about parents travelling with small children.
15:20 August 19, 2009 by Hermlover
I've flown the Stansted to Skavsta or Västerås route probably more than 100 times since 2002 and can testify that the service has definitely gone downhill in the 5+ years I've been flying with them. I both LOVE and HATE Ryanair. If one is prepared, can pre-book and bring a pack lunch there is an absolute economic advantage. I have flown a return trip from Västerås to Stansted (I live in Örebro) for as little as £65 or around SEK600, including the Stansted Express. Of course I could only take carry-on luggage for that price. I hate the way they treat the kids who work as stewards, mostly from countries who have just joined the EU! BUT if it weren't for Ryanair I would not have been able to conduct a long distance love relationship which eventually led me to become a Swedish resident!
18:06 August 19, 2009 by "green Swede"
ROSVEN,you took the words out of my mouth,thought it was returning in october again? it WAS blooming priceless in more ways than one, especially with two toddlers.post again if the petition gets of the ground,I could probably get you some names.p.s it's not just Irish and brits pissed of, many swedes loved the direct/cheap flight to dublin as well.
09:08 August 20, 2009 by Keith #5083
In perspective? My 3rd RA flight this year to UK - and every time the car parking costs more than the flight! Yep, I have an almost 4 hr drive 2 the RA airport - and an

almost 4 hr drive to Landtvetter or Gardemoen.Big differenece there - huh?Return flight Sept 2009:total cost NoK 312 (bag,booking,taxes all included). Return flight Nov 2009: total cost NoK 400(bag,booking cost,taxes all included).

I am sometimes left wondering which planet some RA 'complainers' live on!

I totally agree with Rick Methven.The EU and Ryanair have done more to promote happiness,peace,mutual understanding,culture preservation,etc.etc. than the UN.
13:36 August 20, 2009 by potato man
Petition for resumption of Ryanair Dublin-Goteborg route is a great idea. Hopefully those reading this can assist.

Never really made sense to me why they did away with it. Management at the airport told me it was always an extremely busy route. The €10 tax seems like a red herring and surely that is a matter between passengers and the tax authority. Why does Ryanair need to get involved? I for one would happily pay it to avoid added expense and full days travel through the UK.
15:30 August 20, 2009 by BigScotsGuy
PLEASE DON'T FORGET! If you are travelling to Scotland by Ryanair you get half price rail travel from Prestwick to any destination in Scotland. Just show your booking details to the conductor and you'll probably save the cost of the flight itself! The further you are travelling the better the saving of course. I see so many travellers getting on the train and not taking advantage of this offer. Its not well publicised so make sure you tell everyone they know. Only in Scotland though not England (its a different country and a whole other world!) Also I am always surprised that more Swedes don't spend time in Ayrshire instead of heading off to the other side of the country. The rooms and drinks are much cheaper, pleanty of great golf and fantastic food and scenery.
23:39 August 20, 2009 by Beavis

Average SAS price Dublin to Stockholm one way ecoonmy for the months of July/ August 4300kr one way.

Average ryanair price, with taxes,checked in bag,bus from skavsta 700kr one way.

Timetable: SAS flies Dublin to Stockholm Thursday at 12am lands at 4(meaning taking the day off work)

leaves Stockholm Sunday at 9am!(meaning loosing all of sunday)

ryanir leaves Dublin at 17:25 and arrives 21:00, leaves Sunday at 21:25 arrives 23:00

These are facts.Theese are real fares.

As much as Id rather fly to Arlanda, the outrageuos prices SAS charge and the awful timetables aint worth it.

Also the Dub-Copenhagen route always using a very aging MD080 series.In fact SAS have the oldest most dangerous fleet of aircraft in Europe.(Such as the MD80 series they used fro Spanair)
07:06 August 21, 2009 by Beofile
Oh come on Beavis, what are you talking about?

I just spent one minute looking at SAS for Dubin fares and they are there at £40, £85, £108. That is a fact!

And for your information the age of an aircraft has very little to do safety. The MD80 Spanair accident report has just been published this week. Can I suggest you read it and try to understand the actual causes before you accuse anyone of operating dangerous aircraft?

But never let the truth get in the way of dramatic words eh Butthead? Sorry Beavis!
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