Europe's Ryanair to Introduce Seatless Flying

Ryanair is targeting the winter 2011 schedule for introducing the ultimate unbundled airfare option: a flight with no seat. The carrier aims to start safety testing of its standing-room-only "vertical seats," which resemble leaning posts with seat belts attached, in summer next year, it said last week.

According to newspaper reports, Ryanair will make some of the seats available for free—net of taxes and airport charges—while others will cost up to €10. In order to make ten rows of standing room available at the back of its Boeing 737s, the airline plans to remove five rows of conventional seats and the two rear toilets. To control demand for the single toilet at the front of the aircraft Ryanair will introduce a £1 charge for use.

Ryanair said it is looking initially to introduce vertical seating on flights of up to one hour, such as its busy London-Dublin services. The airline added it originally explored the idea a year ago and that talks have resumed with Boeing in earnest. However, a spokesperson from the U.K. Civil Aviation Authority said there are doubts over whether the Ryanair plan could pass existing safety tests.

Meanwhile, Ryanair has announced that it would reduce its winter 2010 capacity from the United Kingdom by 16 percent in response to a hike in the country's air passenger duty. CEO Michael O'Leary said he would move aircraft out of the United Kingdom to countries that have lowered or scrapped tourist or passenger charges. "Independent capacity analysis shows that growth has returned to the Belgian, Dutch and Spanish markets after their governments scrapped tourist taxes and/or reduced airport charges, in some cases to zero," O'Leary said.

—Northstar Travel Media