Low-cost airline Ryanair launches private jet service

Ryanair launches a low-cost private jet service
Ryanair launches a low-cost private jet service

The ultra low-cost airline Ryanair is getting into the private jet business.

The Irish carrier announced Wednesday it's launching a private jet service to cater to large groups, including corporate customers, sports teams and official government trips.

Ryanair (RYAAY) is considered a pioneer in Europe's airline industry by offering cut-throat pricing and a no-frills approach. So this new upscale service seems out-of-step with its traditional business.

But the company maintains that it will continue offering low prices.

"We will offer the best rates... the most competitive rates in Europe," Ryanair's head of communications Robin Kiely told CNNMoney.

The luxury private jet industry shouldn't get concerned about competition yet. The carrier said it only has one Boeing 737-700 that will be used for this service.

The new private jet features 60 reclinable leather seats and is designed for flights no longer than six hours. Fine dining catering is also available.

The airline has a fleet of 330 Boeing 737-800 jets that are used for normal flights. These planes fit 189 seats and they do not recline.

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The carrier launched this new service since it frequently received calls from customers asking to hire out planes to ferry around large groups, said Kiely. The company sometimes catered to these requests in the winter, but never had enough planes during the peak summer season, he said.

Ryanair has been known for offering rude customer service and charging rage-inducing extra fees. But since 2013, it made a public effort to be kinder to customers and this has helped boost business.

For example, Ryanair's traffic grew by 28% to 7.4 million customers in February compared to the same month last year. The company said a big reason behind the surge in business comes down to its "customer experience program."

"I think we became overly focused, almost obsessed, on having the lowest cost, sometimes at the expense of the customer experience," the airline's CEO Michael O'Leary said in the past.

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