RYANAIR chief Michael O’Leary today vowed to hike luggage charges until nearly all passengers fly only with carry-on bags.
The no-frills airline chief executive stepped up his long-running drive to cut hold baggage by saying he hoped to halve the proportion of passengers checking in bags from nearly 20 per cent to 10 per cent.
Mr O’Leary has previously proposed that travellers be made to carry their checked-in bags all the way to the aircraft.
Ryanair already charges more in the summer and over the festive period, but the fees are now likely to go up even further.
Passengers pay a minimum of £25-35 per bag per flight between June and September and over Christmas and New Year, and £15-20 at other times.
Mr O’Leary said charges were higher in the summer because “that’s when they [passengers] are likely to bring more bags”.
He added: “We will keep increasing charges until we get rid of [hold] bags.” Mr O’Leary said Ryanair had reduced the proportion of its passengers who checked in hold baggage from 80 per cent to 19 per cent, which was saving the airline “a fortune in money”.
However, he accepted that some passengers would always want to bring big bags that needed to go in the hold. He said: “We will never get rid of [hold] bags, but I would be disappointed if we don’t get our figure for [hold] bags down from around 20 per cent to 10 per cent.”
Ryanair estimated in 2009 that it would save £20 million a year in baggage-handling costs if passengers carried their luggage to the aircraft hold and collected it there after touching down, but airports dismissed the plan as unworkable. But Mr O’Leary said it was “unlikely” Ryanair would introduce hand-luggage charges, unlike Hungarian airline Wizz, which started charging for anything larger than a laptop case last October.
He said: “At some point in the future, I think it’s likely that airlines will do it, but I can’t get my head round how you would do it. I think it’s unlikely that we will do it.”
Bob Atkinson, travel expert at price-comparison website Travelsupermarket.com, said: “[Passengers] should always compare the total cost of a flight they want to take with any airline, factoring in not only baggage charges but other add-ons such as seating and on-board refreshments.
“Lead-in prices will only apply to those who can travel hand luggage only. However, savvy travellers can save huge amounts of money by opting to avoid hold baggage costs.
“And for those who really do need to check bags in, ensure you make the most of your free hand luggage allowance, minimise the number of checked-in bags and always stick to the rules, pre-booking any additional weight online and not at the airport, where costs are higher.”