THEY’VE led the way in low-cost air travel. Now Ryanair are blazing a trail in the latest trend . . . the no-frills airport.
The Dublin carrier has just opened a 111 flights-a-week, 13-route service in a new terminal that until two years ago was a disused freight hanger.
Created especially for and in consultation with Ryanair – and other low-cost airlines – MP2 (Marseilles Provence 2) has little of the usual comforts passengers will be used to.
For a start, there are no luggage carts, just 30 seats despite the airport’s 3 million-a-year capacity and salmon pink and pea green-painted concrete lies where one might expect marble or carpet.
Another difference is – as well as there being no air conditioning – you have to carry your own luggage over 30 metres to a “hole in the wall” and a baggage handler on the other side after you check in.
And, once through security, your tickets and ID are checked before you go to wait by the tarmac in bus shelter-style enclosure for the plane – which park much closer to the terminal buildings than in traditional airports – to arrive.
There are no shuttle buses or passenger gangways in what has been dubbed a “cash-and-carry” air terminal, which is beside the main Marseilles Provence Airport terminal at Marig-nane.
When the plane arrives, passengers board almost as soon as the other passengers leave. The system is so swift, that turnaround times of just 20 minutes are being recorded.
MP2 only opened a few days ago but is already attracting a lot of attention among European airport authorities, and another version of MP2 is due to open in France next year.
As well as being cheaper to build, the charges to the customer for using the terminal are significantly lower.
For example, Ryanair – which will have two Boeing 737-800 aircraft and their crews permanently based at MP2 – and other low-cost airlines who will also eventually use the airport, will only be charged €1.32 per passenger in airport taxes.
This is opposed to the €6.19 airlines will be charged for using the main terminal next door.
Ryanair spokesman Peter Sherrard said: “Most passengers want cheap, efficient and functional.
“They are not bothered about marble flooring.”
And he added that the company’s latest launch should urge a review of Dublin Airport’s planned €759 million second terminal.
MP2 cost just €16 million to build and – with its 3 million passenger capacity – works out at a cost of €5.3 million per million passenger.
Dublin Airport’s new terminal, on the other hand, will work out at more than €50 million per million passengers.
Sherrard said: “It is an absolute disgrace that an airport like MP2 can be built at a tenth of the cost of an airport like Cork and yet still have the same capacity.
“It’s too late to undo the mistakes made at Cork but people really should be looking at why on earth Dublin Airport’s Terminal Two is going to cost so much money.
“The growth area in air travel is not marble-filled arrivals halls, it’s in low cost flying, and if you are a company that wants to grow, that’s the place to go.”