Pay toilets coming to an airline near you?
By James Havers, Sympatico / MSN Finance
Air travellers were thrown a curve Friday when Ryanair boss suggested that future passengers might be obligated to insert a British pound coin before using their toilets.
“One thing we have looked at in the past, and are looking at again, is the possibility of maybe putting a coin slot on the toilet door, so that people might have to actually spend a pound to ‘spend a penny' in future,” Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary said, using slang for relieving one's self.
One can bet that airlines around the world were listening. O'Leary is one of Ireland's richest people, and widely credited with refining the low-cost airline model developed by Southwest airlines. He pioneered, among other innovations, the concept of charging airline customers to check bags.
However, O'Leary is also known to speak off the cuff, so analysts were questioning his motives on Friday.
The move, if carried through, might come back to harm his airline. Isn't it conceivable that passengers would turn their noses up at paying for an alcoholic drink, knowing it would speed a trip to the restroom? Ryanair would be sacrificing big money on alcohol sales for small change on toilet fares. Unlikely, but still possible.
Which brings us to our own airlines.
Air Canada's loss for 2008 topped $1 billion, brought on by fuel price volatility and the worsening global economy. The company expects to achieve cost savings through increased fuel efficiency as well as a 2.5%-3.5% reduction in capacity.
Profits in Canada's airline industry are expected to drop 86% in 2009, according to a recent report from the Conference Board of Canada.
In the face of deteriorating conditions, Canadian airlines will be knocking on any door trying to drum up additional revenues.
So it stands to question, will the door to the restroom be safe?