Flights could be free in ten years, airline CEO says

Photo: Reuters

Ryanair could start offering its customers free flights in the very near future, the airline's CEO said at a conference in London Tuesday.

The low-cost Irish carrier could offer journeys at zero cost to the customer in the next five to ten years, its often outspoken boss Michael O'Leary insisted.

His comments come as the airline brings in record profits this year and sees tax cuts across the industry.

At the Airport Operators Association conference, O'Leary said Ryanair could make such generous offerings by drawing its profits from shared revenue (partially from shopping and retail services) at the airports it works with, The Guardian reported.

"The challenge for us in the future is to keep driving air fares down," he said.

"I have this vision that in the next five to 10 years that the air fares on Ryanair will be free, in which case the flights will be full, and we will be making our money out of sharing the airport revenues."

The budget carrier is already delivering a series of price slashes as the holiday shopping season approaches.

Ryanair is comfortable offering generous deals, such as free tickets for a day, because it has received a number of appealing offers from European airports, according to O'Leary.

He said financial conditions are also positive, with flying-related taxes being eliminated.

For example, a duty of up to £97 ($120) on children's tickets in the UK was abolished last year.

Tickets from Ryanair have been getting cheaper for some time. Average fares fell by 10 per cent between April and September of this year, according to reports.

Average ticket prices are expected to fall by another 13 to 15 per cent between now and March.

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