Ryanair Adds Brussels As It Goes Mainstream

November 27, 2013

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Ryanair is to start flying from Brussels' main Zaventem airport, more than 30 km (20 miles) closer to the city than its current base, in a shift to more mainstream airports traditionally dominated by higher-cost rivals.

Europe's largest airline by passenger numbers, Ryanair has in the past used smaller, regional airports but says large airports are offering it more competitive deals as they try to replace capacity cut by legacy carriers.

The shift comes as Ryanair overhauls its customer service model to attract business travellers, who are often willing to pay a premium for more convenient airports, flexible tickets and free baggage allowances.

Chief executive Michael O'Leary has said his airline had fallen behind rival easyJet, which has had success in attracting higher-paying travellers through its use of allocated seating and more mainstream airports.

Ryanair will serve 10 routes from a new base at Brussels Zaventem Airport, which is 11 km (7 miles) from central Brussels, but will also continue to operate from its current base at Brussels Charleroi, 50 km (30 miles) from the capital.

Ryanair moved into Charleroi in 1997 and made the airport its first base in continental Europe.

Rivals tried to stop Ryanair from using the word Brussels when advertising flights to Charleroi due to the airport's distance from the city, but it won permission from the International Air Transport Association.

On Tuesday, Ryanair announced new routes from Rome Fiumicino, Italy's largest airport and it has also announced new routes at the main airports in Lisbon and Prague.