$15 flights to Europe? Sorry, turns out it was too good to be true

Posted at 8:46 PM, Mar 20, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-20 20:48:39-04

LONDON (CNN) — Remember that offer of a $15 flight to Europe? Turns out it was too good to be true.

In a stunning U-turn, Europe’s biggest budget carrier Ryanair said it will not be launching low-cost transatlantic flights.

“In the light of recent press coverage, the Board of Ryanair Holdings wishes to clarify that it has not considered or approved any transatlantic project and does not intend to do so,” the company said late Thursday.

Contrast this with the position on Tuesday: “The board of Ryanair … have approved the business plans for future growth, including transatlantic,” it said in a statement emailed to CNN. “We would like to offer low cost flights between 12-14 European cities and 12-14 U.S. cities. The business plan is there but it’s dependent on attaining viable long haul aircraft and we estimate that’s 4 to 5 years away.”

Ryanair offered no explanation for the confusion and was not available for comment.

CEO Michael O’Leary blamed a “miscommunication,” according to the Financial Times. He was quoted as saying that nobody was available to retract the first statement Tuesday because it was St Patrick’s day, and it wasn’t until a quarterly board meeting Thursday that the issue arose.

Ryanair had said tickets would have started at £10 ($15) each, although taxes and extras would have added hundreds of dollars to the cost of a round trip. Like other no-frills carriers, Ryanair drives profits by charging passengers for services not included in the ticket price.

The Irish airline has long talked about pushing into the U.S. market, but it’s not the first to spot the opportunity. Norwegian Air launched a low-cost service in May.

Adding to the confusion, the Financial Times cited O’Leary as saying Ryanair still wanted to pursue a transatlantic strategy but that would involve a separate company.