Ryanair wants ticket distribution via agencies, talking to all three GDSs

When we said hell had frozen over at Ryanair, as it finally opened a Twitter account, we were being tongue in cheek – but it now appears the cold spell has continued in a serious way.

Just three days after CEO Michael O’Leary talked about working with Google on a consumer-facing metasearch product, Ryanair has confirmed to Tnooz it is now discussing third party distribution of tickets via travel agencies with  Travelport, Amadeus and Sabre.

An announcement earlier today to unveil the airline’s new head of groups and corporate travel, Lesley Kane (its ex-head of sales and marketing) was, in some respects, just another Ryanair press release.

But talk by the carrier as it “actively targets the group and business travel markets in 2014” can only mean one thing: agreements with the organisations that can deliver such customers – the GDSs and agencies.

Kane says no agreement has been reached with any of the three main distribution players, or if it will opt for a multi or exclusive GDS strategy, but given there is now a dedicated division targeting corporate travellers and groups it indicates a significant softening of its previous strategy of not wishing to work with agencies.

Although, as Kane concedes, being on any third party distribution platform will mean that travellers of both leisure and corporate colours will be able to buy its fares via agents, Ryanair has the business traveller in its sights (just as EasyJet did a few years back, when it opened up to the GDSs).

Kane says with a target of carrying some 110 million passengers by 2019, up from 81 million in 2014, on 420 aircraft (175 of them new, arriving from September this year), Ryanair is looking to bring in new customers via new channels to fill the planes.

This is happening already, she explains, with two-thirds of travellers on some of its peak routes during busy commuter times clearly of a corporate persuasion (business attire, etc).

Kane also admits the carrier has had a “period of reflection” as it looks to widen its previously rather narrow distribution strategy (albeit one which has performed extremely well, with solid growth for years and 99% of sales via its website) and its rather more widely publicised (and mocked by mainstream media) makeover on the customer service side of the airline.

This isn’t entirely a revolution, as many with long memories will recall. Ryanair was on Galileo, Worldspan, Sabre and Amadeus until around ten years ago, but the carrier deliberately adopted the direct-only model to take advantage of the massive jump in users searching and booking via the web.

Details of the new “business product”, as Ryanair calls it, will be disclosed in the coming weeks.

NB: Tnooz has contacted the three GDSs mentioned above for comment.

NB2: Ryanair aircraft image via Shutterstock.

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Kevin May

About the Writer :: Kevin May

Kevin May was a co-founder and member of the editorial team from September 2009 to June 2017.



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  1. Mark Lenahan

    Today (Friday 17th) RyanAir announced a significant reorganisation of the senior management team. 9 appointments in all, including new roles. They have taken on Kenny Jacobs (from a very strong retail background) as CMO, as well as appointing a new Head of Groups & Corporate Sales. Following on from the Google statements earlier in the week and this GDS stuff it makes for interesting times in RyanAir.

    I think that they have realised that new routes aren’t the only way to grow – in fact there are diminishing returns as they connect ever smaller airports. They need to soften up their consumer image as well as look after the needs of more customer segments. This will allow them to get more passengers or higher paying passengers, on the routes that they already have.


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