Ryanair to go hub-and-spoke

Ryanair hub

The low cost airline business model is evolving.

In a recent article on CNN about current trends in the budget airline sector I highlighted how, one by one, the dogmas of the industry were being set aside to converge towards a sort of middle-ground where low cost airlines have some of the attributes of a legacy airline, while full service airlines introduce elements of the low cost airline model.

Ryanair, as an industry leader, is not untouched by this. Following its astonishing transformation into a nicer, more user-friendly airline (to the extreme of launching its own VIP private aircraft service!), it is now the turn of hub-and-spoke operations. Or at least, time to test the concept of connection flights.

In its early years, the low cost airline industry focused exclusively on point to point flights, shunning the sort of air connections that legacy airlines were used to. There are good reasons to do so, mainly the fact that the ensuing simplification of operations that can deliver significant cost savings.

However, low cost airlines (or we should rather call them hybrids now) such as Vueling and JetBlue have successfully introduced flight connectivity in their operations, even with third party operators, such as Qatar Airways. So why not Ryanair?

The Irish airline will be testing the concept this summer at two of its main bases: London Stansted and Barcelona (where Vueling is already running its own "low cost hub").

This may be a taster of things to come, as Ryanair is said to be in very advanced talks with airlines such as TAP and Norwegian with a view to feeding their long haul services.