Ancillary revenues has been one of the hot topics at the congress this year, with much discussion given to the respective opportunities through both unbundling and creating new streams.
Yet despite this, the much-written about Michael O’Leary tongue-in-cheek (we assume) suggestion that Ryanair was considering charging passengers to use toilets onboard – a concept universally dismissed by speakers during a session here in Barcelona – continued to take up air time, even if it was to say we should stop giving it air time (at this point I should apologise for my own contribution to a world already over-flowing with pun-laden headlines on the subject).
“Charging for the toilet is going too far,” said easyJet founder and shareholder Stelios Haji-Ioannau. “You are captive. It is not like you have anywhere else to go”
“We continue talking about things that are not real,” complained Vueling chief executive Alex Cruz. “This is the perfect time to find the next holy grail area [in ancillaries], without necessarily paying to use the toilet.”
While headline grabbing – whether it be the outlandish suggestions of charging to use the toilets to today’s reality of paying to check-in bags or to sit in particular seats – it is an ever-more important part of the business and not just for low-cost carriers.
And there was an interesting perspective on the whole subject from Flybe chief commercial officer Mike Rutter. “I do think as an industry we need to find the right balance and if we don’t we will find ourselves overcome in regulation,” he warns. “It’s important we have self control.”