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Ryanair has made a move to attract business passengers by agreeing to accept American Express cards on its website.
The no-frills airline, which last week vowed to improve its customer service, announced the change of policy today (September 25) in a move designed to increase bookings from business travellers and corporate travel departments. Ryanair stopped taking booking through Amex cards around a decade ago due to the card firm's "excessive fees".
Ryanair's deputy chief executive Howard Millar said that “more than 20 per cent” of its passengers were currently travelling on business which was why it had reached an “acceptance agreement” with Amex.
“We estimate that 20 per cent to 25 per cent of our passengers are travelling on business, with online check-in ensuring they avoid airport queues, while the option of priority boarding and reserved seating has proven extremely popular,” added Millar.
“Indeed, a recent survey of Ryanair passengers in Spain, where Ryanair is the largest carrier, highlighted that 22 per cent of our passengers were travelling on business.”
Ryanair’s change of policy on accepting Amex cards shows that it is now following no-frills rival Easyjet’s strategy of increasing its focus on the corporate market.
But chief executive Michael O’Leary is adamant that Ryanair will not follow Easyjet on to GDSs because of the costs of distributing flights through these channels.
“We have a nuanced approach to the travel trade but we are not going on to the GDSs where we would pay ludicrous amounts of money to Amadeus, Sabre and Galileo who do nothing for their money,” O’Leary said last week at a press conference.
Werner Decker, Amex’s senior vice president and general manager, Merchant Services Europe, added: "Many of our card members are regular travellers - whether for leisure or business - and I am pleased that they now have the option to book with their American Express card on the Ryanair website."
Ryanair is charging a €7 fee for passengers using Amex cards on its website plus a 2 per cent commission charge on the value of the booking.