22nd Sep 2001, 12:46
From today's Scotsman
Budget airlines reopen price war
A NEW price war broke out yesterday between low-cost airlines Ryanair, easyJet and Go in a battle to woo back passengers in the aftermath of last week’s terrorist attacks on New York and Washington DC.
Ticket prices as low as £1 and £2 were offered as the no-frills airline operators slashed prices on scores of UK and European destinations, including Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness.
Ryanair, Europe’s largest budget carrier, has cut the London to Glasgow service to just £1 with the return leg priced at £2. The single fare from Edinburgh to Dublin has ben sliced to just £15.
EasyJet hit back by announcing price cuts of up to 60 per cent on 150,000 seats.
Go, bought out earlier this year by chief executive Barbara Cassani and her management team from previous owner British Airways, immediately slashed prices on some routes by one-third.
Michael O’Leary, chairman of Dublin-based Ryanair, said that his airline was offering "fares from £1; every seat, every flight".
O’Leary said: "The only way to defeat terrorism here is not to be standing there whingeing with your aircraft on the ground looking for subsidies. It’s to get out there with lower fares and persuade people to travel more often."
O’Leary denied the price cuts were a panic response by budget airlines to a big drop in passenger numbers.
"We continue to take the same number of bookings per week as we did before the tragic event in the US last week," he said. "This week our [Ryanair] bookings are back to normal. They’re back to normal at slightly lower fares because we’ve opened up all the cheaper seats," he said.
Luton-based easyJet also said passengers numbers were holding up.
Go, the Stansted-based no-frills airline, said advanced bookings on its Edinburgh and Glasgow to Belfast or Dublin flights would be reduced to £25 return.
Its Edinburgh to Stansted or Bristol would now cost £30 return. Go flights from Stansted to Bilbao have been cut to £45. On destinations such as Bologna, Copenhagen, Milan, Munich and Venice prices have been slashed to £50 return.
The dogfight saw easyJet cut the cost of flights to and from Edinburgh, Glasgow and Belfast to £12.50 single, £25 return. The new Aberdeen-Luton fare has been set at £15 single. Flights from Luton airport to Barcelona are £20 single, and to Athens £25. Prices include tax, but are available only when booking through the internet. EasyJet’s new prices took effect from midnight last night.
The airline is also offering flights to Amsterdam from either Edinburgh or Glasgow for £15 single or £28.20 return. Its Luton to Inverness service will now cost £20 single, £35 return.
As share prices across Europe slid yesterday, airlines were hard hit, with Ryanair down 13.35 per cent and Easyjet’s down 7.4 per cent to 253.5p.
"We don’t spend five seconds a year worrying about where our share price is, whether it’s up or down," said O’Leary.
"We are not going to make anybody redundant... we are going to keep people flying and we are going to fly our way out of this thing."
Ian Watson Business Editor
Saturday, 22nd September 2001