Airline makes flying even more of a gamble - Fly For Free
Airline makes flying even more of a gamble
By correspondents in London
November 04, 2005
Airline passengers who like a flutter could soon be flying for free if an Irish company's plan for on-board gambling takes off.
Ryanair announced yesterday that it hoped to introduce betting on its fleet of Boeing aircraft, creating, in essence, "casinos at 30,000 feet".
Chief executive Michael O'Leary said gambling would remove the need for the airline to charge people to fly.
The service will be launched in the next 18 months, with the airline working on a system that would enable passengers to gamble through their mobile phones - with an on-board substation - or a Blackberry handheld organiser that has internet access.
Ryanair, which specialises in low-cost flights throughout Europe, would act as the casino, taking a cut of the winnings or profiting from the mobile call charges.
Mr O'Leary said it would establish a partnership with one of the booming online gambling operators and begin trialling the system from June next year.
Children would be able to play video games for a fee.
Ryanair makes 16 per cent of its profits from non-ticket sources such as hotels, travel insurance, on-board sales and car hire.
"The flag carriers have been ripping us all off for the last 40 years," Mr O'Leary told The Independent newspaper.
"The image of airlines today is high-cost, rip-off, poor food. I don't see how on-board gambling could make that any worse."
*Insert politically incorrect Irish joke here*