11 March 2003

Winged: the most popular budget airlines

By Simon Calder Travel Editor

Ryanair, the no-frills airline that made thousands of travellers furious when it announced it would close down its new acquisition, Buzz, has been voted the worst low-cost airline in a Holiday Which? survey published today.

The Irish airline has scrapped a dozen Buzz routes from London Stansted, ordered the grounding of its aircraft for April, and cancelled Buzz's plans to establish a base in Bournemouth. The company Palmair came top of the survey of nearly 20,000 members of the Consumers' Association.

Kim Winter, the managing editor of Holiday Which? , said: "More than half our members would definitely recommend Bmibaby, Buzz, easyJet and Go to a friend. Among the no-frills airlines, only Ryanair scores less than 50 per cent."

Members of the Consumers' Association voted Ryanair into 30th place, with poor marks for catering, cleanliness, leg room, seat allocation and lavatories – though it earned the highest rating for value for money.

However, a spokesman for Ryanair said: "Consumers are voting with their feet – the increases in Ryanair's passenger numbers speak for themselves.

This year we will continue to grow at 30 per cent-plus by adding new routes, new aircraft, and by lowering fares by at least 5 per cent."

The two highest-scoring low-cost carriers, Go and Buzz, cease flying at the end of the month. Buzz flights are stopping on the orders of Ryanair, which is to take over from the original owner, KLM, on 1 April. Go is being subsumed into its new owner, easyJet, with the last Go flight arriving from Nice on 29 March.

"We're sorry to see any reduction in competition", Ms Winter said, "but the survey also shows that no-frills airlines are forcing traditional airlines to become more competitive."