European safety regulators have ruled out changing regulations for at least two years that would have allowed Ryanair to introduce standing room on its aircraft.
European Aviation Safety Agency (Easa) regulations currently state: “A seat (or berth for a non-ambulant person) must be provided for each occupant who has reached his or her second birthday.”
Officials have said that these rules would have to be rewritten if airlines were to allow passenger to stand.
“This idea [of Ryanair’s] is unprecedented and unlikely to be certified in the near future,” said a spokesman for Easa.
The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority added that Easa’s safety requirements include rules on restraint during take-off and landing; restraint during periods of turbulence; the “crashworthiness” of airline seats; and evacuation and flammability issues.
Ryanair itself admits the idea – as well as one to charge for using inflight toilets – was in the “very early stages”. It first mooted the plans a few months ago when it was in talks with Boeing over a new order for planes. The order didn’t come off, said a spokesman for the airline, but it is now in talks with the aircraft manufacturer over the idea again.
O’Leary said safety testing for vertical seating will take place next year. The introduction of a £1 fee to use the toilet will fund the plan
Ryanair hopes to phase in the perches on commuter flights, such as Dublin to London, of up to an hour long before expanding them to all aircraft.
“We are aiming at starting safety testing in about 12 months with a view to going into service with the new arrangements in about 18 months to two years’ time,” he said.
“We think this would work well on our winter services so would hope to eventually introduce it for a winter timetable.”
Ryanair defended itself against accusations that the two ideas are nothing more than an attempt to seek publicity.
Meanwhile, the airline yesterday raised its prices by increasing the price of check-in luggage for the next two months, from £15 to £20.