In-flight gambling may mean free flights

Nov. 3, 2005 at 1:03 PM
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DUBLIN, Ireland, Nov. 3 (UPI) -- Ireland-based Ryanair is exploring offering even more free flights if it can generate enough revenue from in-flight gambling.

The discount carrier gave away about a quarter of its seats last year, and Chief Executive Officer Michael O'Leary told The Independent the success of gambling could see all of its fares eliminated.

He said the airline expected to pick an online gaming operator to partner with in the next two to three months and begin testing the system next summer. He predicted that if 25 to 30 percent of passengers chose some in-flight wagering then it could easily add $85 million to Ryanair's bottom line.

Passengers will be able to gamble using either their mobile phones or supplied Blackberries, provided it can devise a payment system that allows it to debit a passenger's credit card before the plane lands. All the calls would be routed through an onboard mobile "sub-station" enabling the airline to get a cut of the call charge as well as a percentage of the takings.

Ryanair launched its latest free ticket offer Wednesday, giving away 2 million seats over the next three months to passengers who book before next Friday.

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