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Sat, Jul 10, 2004 - Page 12 News List

Ryanair to expand `no-frills' by ending check-in baggage

THE GUARDIAN , LONDON

Ryanair is to take its "no frills" travel philosophy to a new level by banning passengers from stowing luggage in the hold of its aircraft, in a move which it claims will eliminate the need for check-in desks.

The Irish budget airline's chief executive, Michael O'Leary, said on Thursday said he hoped to introduce charges of up to 75 euros (US$93) per bag next year, with a view to phasing out hold-luggage entirely.

"The purpose is not to make money from checked-in luggage -- the purpose is to get rid of it altogether," O'Leary said.

In future, O'Leary said he wanted passengers to print out boarding passes when they book tickets on the Internet, allowing them to go directly to their departure gate on arrival at the airport.

Ryanair believes the change could cut 50 million euros from its 150 million euros annual airport costs.

It wants to work towards reducing its costs per passenger by 7.5 euros .

O'Leary said the need for luggage was simply a "state of mind" for many passengers.

"I can go away for a two-week roadshow with simply an overnight bag," he said.

In preparation for scrapping checked-in bags, Ryanair recently doubled its charge for excess baggage to seven euros per kilogram and increased the permit-ted weight of bags in its aircraft cabins from 7kg to 10kg.

Ryanair said less than half of its 27 million passengers a year check in luggage.

Most are going on short trips, with an average stay of less than two days.

Consumers' representatives criticized Ryanair's plans.

James Freemantle of the UK's Air Transport Users' Council said: "It's disappointing that an airline would want to introduce a policy restricting who could fly on its planes.

"This reduces passengers' choice -- especially for families with children and lots of bags who wouldn't be able to travel without checking in their lug-gage," Freemantle said.

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