Innovation: The World Turned Upside Down

When Cornwallis’s army marched out of Yorktown in surrender to George Washington’s troops (and a few French) at the end of the Revolution, it is reputed to have played the tune “The World Turned Upside Down.”

Today the Irish are joining the British in marching to the beat of a different drum with Ryanair’s announcement last week of a revolution in its transatlantic fare structure.

Ryanair says that four years hence, it will offer flights featuring fares as low as $12.

You read that right: Twelve dollars.

Talk about turning today’s airline business model on its ear!

In the upside down à la carte world of 2011, Ryanair plans to survive and thrive by earning greater revenues from those pick-and-choose options than from the base ticket price itself. In fact, other airlines already are investigating the potential represented by à la carte sales of food, in-flight entertainment, seating selection, and so on.

Ryanair is betting that giving the air traveler complete freedom of choice will prove a boon to profits and driver of customer satisfaction.

After all, isn’t freedom of choice what the Revolution was all about?

Airline Futurist • Miami • •