Ryanair have robustly defended the introduction of 'sky oars' in their new sub-economy class. Each oar is operated by a row of three passengers and the designer, Patrick from Marketing, thinks they could help propel the aircraft. Stripped to the waist and heavily manacled, passengers in the new 'Galley' class can expect to save up to 20% on the price of a ticket.
"We discussed the practicalities of this in a sales 'brainstorming' session", explained Patrick. "The oars will stick through the little windows on the sides of the plane, and we'll employ a big, bald man in leather straps to keep rhythm on a huge bodhran. We're pretty sure that by waggling the oars in time to the beat, the planes can be rowed through the clouds. This is going to be really popular, our customers have repeatedly shown us that they'll do anything to save a couple of quid."
It's not the first time that the airline has attempted to woo their customers by making flights less comfortable. The move follows such initiatives as charging for toilets, 'standing room only' cabins, and in-flight clinical trials for pharmaceutical companies. Not all have been successful: the clinical trials were halted after a notable fall-off in duty-free sales.
Some of Ryanair's staff are unhappy with the move. Speaking from their Paris terminal in Belgium, Maeve O'Leary voiced her safety concerns. "In an emergency, we're expected to unshackle 200 passengers. The safety demonstration takes a lot longer now that we cover splinter removal, and we oppose the policy of 'ramming' other planes, in order to keep our time slots. If you ask me, someone dreamt this up over a couple of beers and a Ben Hur DVD. Although, it is nice to be able to whip the customers again".
The Civil Aviation Authority has yet to approve the proposal: "We're not convinced the plans will work, but then we didn't think passengers would pay 40 quid for a boarding pass, either", announced a spokesman. "This really doesn't fall into our remit: there's nothing 'civil' about flying with Ryanair."
There has been limited support for the proposal. Green pressure groups have welcomed the new 'hybrid' aircraft, and comic archivists are embracing the return of a favourite old joke: 'I've just flown in from Dublin, and boy, are my arms tired! And my luggage is missing.'