Ryanair has unveiled plans to stop passengers checking in baggage next year in its bid to reduce airport handling costs. Under the plan, passengers would drop all but one bag at the aircraft steps, possibly paying £5 per bag for each placed in the hold.
The move comes as part of a package of new check-in measure, which could eventually force other airlines to follow its lead for short-haul flights. In October it will become the first carrier to abolish conventional check-in facilities at airports across its European network, forcing all passengers to check in online before leaving home. It will still allow baggage to be checked in for the hold but will charge for the “service”.
Michael O’Leary, chief executive, said the airline was planning a further stage next year when it would allow no checked-in baggage but passengers would be allowed to carry more bags through security - two or more according to airport rules - to the aircraft.
They would still be allowed to carry only one bag into the cabin - maximum weight 10kg - but he said a second bag could be left beside the aircraft to be loaded on and picked up on arrival.
Similar procedures are already deployed in the USA for travellers flying on regional feeder services to main hub airports.
“What it means is no more waiting at the carousel, no more losing your bags, no more wasting your life in over-priced airport terminals,” O’Leary said, adding that this would cut the number of baggage handlers from five to one per plane.
He estimates the move could save the airline up to €30m a year. “Some time in the spring we will go to 100 percent carry-on bags. You can bring unlimited bags as long as you can get them through security,” he added.
But Mr O’Leary warned that it was planning to freeze growth at its nine UK bases. He forecast that the number of Ryanair passengers carried to and from UK airports would fall in this financial year to 32m from 34m last year, the first such decline, partly because of the impact of rising aviation taxation.
“Tourism is one of the UK’s most important industries and employers. It responds quickly to price changes,” said Mr O’Leary.
“The government’s £10 tourist tax is making the UK an uncompetitive destination and they must scrap this tax now to prevent a further collapse of UK passenger, tourism and job numbers.
“While the UK keeps taxing tourists Ryanair will switch its growth to other EU countries where low-cost airports are growing and where governments are welcoming tourists not taxing them,” he said.