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Is a $10 transatlantic flight possible?

Posting in Cities

Michael O'Leary, CEO of budget airline Ryanair, says he would like to launch cheap flights to America in the next few years -- for only $10 per passenger.

As reported by Business Week, the airline chief's latest musings reflect those from a 2008 news conference, where O'Leary said the company's future long-haul operation would offer $13 fares and "exceptional" customer service in business class -- which would be expensive in order to offset the price of economy.

Five years later, Ryanair's CEO still fancies the idea. In an interview this week, O'Leary said that "unfortunately, the challenge is there's no availability of long-haul aircraft," which is the reason why such entrepreneurial fancy has been scuppered so far.

However, the supply of jets would not be the only problem if the budget airline decided to try its luck in the long-haul market. Four credible, no-frills operations have attempted to offer flights across the pond -- and each one has failed. For example, Canada's Zoom Airlines created paths from Canadian cities to the U.K. and from New York to London, before throwing in the towel and liquidating in 2008.

Ryanair gives fliers cheap, continual flights across Europe. The business model generates profit through extras including baggage and online check-in fees.

The airline stays in the black by flying often and to smaller airports in order to save money. However, if Ryanair decided to move into large airport territory -- including London Heathrow and JFK -- then high usage fees are likely to destroy this cost advantage, not to mention the rising cost of fossil fuels.

Perhaps there is a fatal flaw to this idea in relation to consumer demand. No-frills flights are bearable for short, rapid flights -- but how many of us would be willing to endure the same for long-haul trips?

Read More: Business Week

Image credit: Flickr

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— By on June 26, 2013, 7:09 PM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure