Ryanair to allow assigned seating
RYANAIR has finally bowed to public pressure and will allow fully assigned seating from early next year.
The airline made the announcement as part of its newer "softer" customer relations approach.
Ryanair has for decades required passengers to form lengthy queues in order to scramble for unassigned seats.
The situation was particularly frustrating for families and couples often forced to sit apart.
Fully assigned seating will now be rolled out from February.
CEO Michael O'Leary said passengers wishing to book a particular seat would be charged €5, while all others would be assigned seats for free the day before the flight.
Mr O'Leary earlier revealed a host of improvements to the airline's customer service.
The "on-time" jingle will be silenced on early morning flights, and customers will be allowed to make small changes to their booking without incurring heavy fees.
Passengers will also be allowed to take a second small carry-on bag on to flights – the equivalent of a small handbag or shopping bag.
The company issued a profit warning, signalling it is on course to record its first major drop in profits after two decades of industry-leading expansion.
Mr O'Leary said projected profits for 2014 would fall to a range of €500m to €520m, reflecting expected heavy losses in the weaker winter months.
Ryanair had previously said profits would grow to up to €600m for 2014.
Mr O'Leary cited declining demand across Europe as the sole reason for the weakened outlook. The forecast means Ryanair expects to record second-half losses of up to €100m.
However, he said he expected Ryanair to resume expansion as it starts to receive the first aircraft from a 175-plane deal with sole supplier Boeing.
"High-cost competitor airlines are continuing to cut capacity in major markets such as France, Germany, Poland, Spain and Italy, and this continues to create growth opportunities for Ryanair," he said.
Sales for the April to September period rose 5pc to €3.2bn as the airline carried 49 million passengers, a 2pc gain. Net profits rose 1pc to €602m.