Toilet charge 'just a joke' Ryanair now claims

A budget airline boss was "only joking" when he suggested charging passengers to use the toilet, an airline spokesman told a German paper on Thursday.

Ryanair passengers were shocked last month when Michael O'Leary threatened to "put a coin-slot on the toilet doors so that people might have to actually spend a pound to spend a penny".

Ryanair spokesman for Germany, Anja Seugling, told the Ostthueringer Zeitung daily, "it was all just a gag," adding that O'Leary was probably just thinking out loud.

O'Leary, who is one of Ireland's wealthiest businessmen, has a reputation as a ruthless cost cutter, expanding Ryanair by offering low basic fares and charging extra for items like hold luggage.

Following criticism of the supposed plan, Ryanair launched a light-hearted competition on Thursday to suggest new ways the budget carrier can save money

The Irish airline said it had already received suggestions including charging one euro for oxygen masks, 25 euros to use the emergency exits, and 50 euros for bikini-clad cabin crew.

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary has been widely criticised for introducing more and more charges, starting with food on board and extra fees for non-online customers, but now including check-in charges.

Most recently he suggested that passengers could be asked to pay one pound coin (1.10 euros, 1.40 dollars) to go to the toilet on board, although spokesmen subsequently explained that he may not have been serious.

On Thursday Ryanair's Stephen McNamara said: "Ryanair is Europe's largest low fares airline and we plan to continue to reduce costs and fares by stimulating ancillary revenues.

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"Since we confirmed that we are considering a toilet charge we have received a huge number of ancillary revenue suggestions from passengers and we want more," he added in a statement on the airline's website.

The airline is offering 1000 euros to the most creative idea submitted by the end of March. Other suggestions so far include charging for toilet paper with O'Leary's face on it and charging 2.50 euros to read the safety cards.

"The winning idea will be chosen by Ryanair and our decision will be final," said the airline.

AFP

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