Irish budget airline Ryanair has launched a new package holiday service that it claims will offer travellers the best value for money.
Holidaymakers have been overcharged “for years”, according to the Dublin-based company, which claims Ryanair Holidays will “transform” the travel industry.
Customers will now be able to book flights, accommodation and transfer packages that are protected by the Atol scheme, ensuring refunds are given if a travel firm collapses.
The move comes after Ryanair formed a partnership with Spanish tour operator Logitravel and accommodation provider World2Meet.
Kenny Jacobs, Ryanair’s chief marketing officer, insists the service “will be a great success” and said the company would forgo its commission to increase sales.
He said: “If you’re looking at a package holiday on Ryanair Holidays you will see that typically our customers will save at least £40 on every single seat that they’re booking.
“If you take those flight savings that you make versus any other airline and apply those to a package holiday, a mum, dad and two kids will save at least 10 per cent on a package holiday.”
The service has been launched in the UK, Ireland and Germany, with other markets to follow next year.
Ryanair has been operating since 1985, when it began flying a 15-seater turboprop service from Ireland’s Waterford airport to London Gatwick.
Since then it has grown to become one of Europe’s largest airlines, flying to 32 European countries as well as destinations in Africa and the Middle East.
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The firm’s success is down to its no-frills service, with aircraft having non-reclining seats, no seat-back pockets, safety cards stuck on the back of seats and life jackets stowed overhead rather than under seats.
This has cut aircraft costs and enables faster cleaning and security checks during short turnaround times.
Routes have traditionally flown to smaller or secondary airports, usually outside major cities, to take advantage of lower landing fees and quicker turnaround times.
Other proposed measures to further strip back the service have included eliminating two toilets to add six more seats, redesigning the aircraft to allow standing passengers to travel in “vertical seats”, charging to use the toilet, a levy for overweight passengers and asking travellers to carry checked-in luggage to the plane.
According to research Ryanair is the cheapest low-cost airline in Europe in basic price but comes in fourth place when fees are included.
But the firm had been facing an increasing barrage of criticism over its customer service, including its poor treatment of disabled passengers, as well as misleading advertising and unfair surcharges.
So in 2014 bosses announced a new campaign to reinvent Ryanair as a more family-friendly airline.
Chief executive Michael O’Leary said it needed to “stop unnecessarily pissing people off”. Efforts included the launch of LiveChat on the Ryanair website to improve the quality of service and experience provided by the company.
The change in approach had an almost immediate positive effect on Ryanair’s finances.
Mr Jacobs added: “Customers have been paying too much for package holidays for years, and more and more want to put their own packages together themselves.
“Ryanair customers already enjoy the biggest route network in Europe and with Ryanair Holidays can choose from a fantastic range of three, four and five-star hotels throughout the Mediterranean and Europe’s capital cities, ideal for last-minute getaways, summer family holidays, winter sun or city breaks.”