Ireland's Ryanair Holdings PLC (LON:RYA) Chief Executive Michael O’Leary wants to sell cheap flights from the U.S. to Europe for as low as 10 euros ($13) or $10, if conditions are right, according to Reuters. The airline also announced Thursday plans to increase its growth rate in response to greater demand and lower costs in Europe and return $1.34 billion to shareholders.
O’Leary, who signaled his ambitions this week for the airline while at the Paris Air Show, has expressed a similar desire in the past before without much follow-up, reports the Daily Telegraph. He first said he’d like to set up trans-Atlantic routes in 2007.
O’Leary told Reuters that he needs a fleet of at least 30 twin-aisle aircraft and access to major U.S. and European cities, first. The actual business of a long-haul Ryanair operation would be split off from its established pan-European flight operations, and run on a different business model, said O’Leary.
Ryanair wouldn’t be the first budget airline to venture into the long-haul market. Laker Airways ran flights from London to New York in the late 1970s but later went bankrupt in 1982. AirAsiaX in Malaysia and Australian Jetstar Group are two other Asian airlines offering long-haul routes at budget fares.
Dublin-based Ryanair also announced it would return $1.34 billion to shareholders over the next two years through a combination of share buybacks or special dividends.
The airline also upped its annual growth rate target 2 percent, from 5 percent to 7 percent per year, and seeks to carry 110 million passengers by 2019. The company plans to allow 400 million euros in share buybacks from now until March 2014, with the remaining 600 million euros return targeted for completion by March 2015.