RYANAIR has scrapped its €100 heavy baggage fee in an attempt to simplify its “overzealous” luggage system.
In a move expected to spark a fresh price war between rivals, the no-frills airline will replace its current suite of 108 baggage price bands with just six.
Under the current system, passengers must pay up to €100 to check in a 20 kilo bag during peak season rather than booking in advance online. The company is known to generate almost a quarter of its revenue from extras such as baggage fees, amounting to a staggering $2 billion (€1.77 billion) in 2014.
From June, the charges will be replaced by a €38 flat fee which applies to all 20 kilo bags, regardless of whether customers pre-booked their baggage allowance. Escalating fees for additional items of luggage will also be abolished.
However, the new system represents a 50 per cent price hike for low-season flyers, who currently pay €25 for their baggage.
Announcing the changes on Tuesday April 12, Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary defended the move, affirming that the “vast majority” of luggage is checked in during peak season.
He said that the proportion of passengers carrying checked baggage rises to 30-35 per cent during the summer and can fall to as little as 5 per cent in November.
Mr O’Leary also denied that the changes were in response to earlier criticism that Ryanair has targeted families going on summer holidays.
“Families, like everybody else, are travelling with less checked bags,” he said. “The purpose of the bag fee was never to penalise people. It was to incentivise people to travel with fewer checked bags.”
The new system will come into place on June 16, but will not apply to passengers who have already booked flights with Ryanair. Higher fees will still apply on flights to more distant destinations such as the Canary Islands.