Fly ‘business class’ for less than R1K

London - It is seen as the ultimate no-frills airline that once even threatened to charge passengers for using the toilet.

Ryanair failed to reply to the court notice so the case was automatically found in Mr Marshall's favour. Credit: AP

But in a dramatic change of style, Ryanair is now attempting to woo upmarket travellers.

It is offering business class tickets with a free hold luggage allowance, priority boarding and fast-track security clearance.

Flights will cost a minimum of £59.99 (about R1 000) each way compared with £19.99 for the airline’s cheapest standard ticket. Business Plus customers will also be offered “premium seats” with extra legroom.

However, it will not match the business class service offered by most major airlines, which provides wider seats, use of a private airport lounge and free food and drink.

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary, once famous for his lack of respect for passengers, has introduced Business Plus in response to arch-rival easyJet, which has seen its profits soar after a decision to target business travellers.

About 25 percent of Ryanair customers are travelling on business. Marketing boss Kelly Jacobs admitted the new cut-price service would not offer the same perks as business class on major airlines, but added: “It gives them things we think actually matter to them.”

He insisted that Ryanair would be cheaper than easyJet and would take advantage of its much larger route network, even though some of its airports – such as those serving Paris and Frankfurt – are located far from financial districts.

However, financial pundit David Buik dismissed Ryanair’s move. “I can see zero need in offering a business class service,” he said. “This initiative is just clutching at straws.” - Daily Mail