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Ryanair CEO talks of $12 fares to Europe

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary „plans to start a no-frills trans-Atlantic airline, offering fares as low as $12, following the 'open skies' accord between the US and European Union,” Bloomberg News reports.

„The new airline would fly from Ryanair's existing bases including London Stansted, Dublin and Frankfurt-Hahn, O'Leary said in a briefing to reporters. The carrier would go to secondary US airports at destinations including New York, San Francisco, San Diego, Boston, Dallas and Florida,” Bloomberg adds. In Europe, Ryanair is known for its rock-bottom fares - and for its absence of even the most basic amenities. It also favors airports that are not near urban centers. O'Leary's trans-Atlantic effort would start in three or four years, Associated Press quotes him as saying. Flight International magazine mentions Baltimore, Providence and Long Island's Islip/MacArthur as airports that would be top US candidates for the service. O'Leary told Reuters that the new unit would initially be funded by private investors. „There are a lot of investors who are very keen to see a low-fare airline operate a transatlantic service, and money is the last thing we'll need,” he says. Reuters adds that the trans-Atlantic unit „would be a sister or associate company rather than part of Ryanair.”

Zoom Airlines - the United Kingdom unit of a Canadian carrier with the same name - says it will begin offering low-cost flights between London Gatwick and New York JFK on June 21. „The airline said one-way fares will start from $254.90 including taxes and charges. It will offer economy and premium economy services with designated seating and a meal service,” Associated Press writes. Zoom plans to fly a Boeing 767 on its New York-London route. Zoom co-owner John Boyle isn't phased by Ryanair's potential competition. „We are doing this from June, four years ahead of Ryanair and Mr. O'Leary,” he tells Bloomberg News. „A new fixture that helps small children reach restroom sinks is now cropping up in airports,” writes USA Today reporter Roger Yu. „Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta bought it last year for Concourses C and D, and recently bought more for other concourses, says Paul Sumpton of Step 'n Wash, the Atlanta-based maker of the product. A metal step about a foot tall, it is installed under sinks. Parents pull it out to enable children to reach the faucet. Using hydraulic pressure, the step retracts by itself. Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky and Salt Lake City also are customers.” If you feel like flights are getting more and more crowded, it's not your imagination.

USA Today writes that „most of the USA's biggest airlines operated their planes fuller last month than in any previous March, virtually snuffing out hope among passengers for an empty middle seat to sprawl across.” Four carriers - American, Delta, Continental and United - each reported their highest-ever percentages of filled seats for March. While that's good for airline finances, it's not necessarily good for passengers - especially if weather disrupts flight schedules. (