Panorama : Why Hate Ryanair ?

Ryanair Boeing 737-800s at Frankfurt-Hahn
Image via Wikipedia

Vivian White presented a pretty pointless report on tonight’s Panorama by taking aim at budget airline Ryanair. Seeking some sensationalism amidst chief Michael O’Leary’s business practices, White ending up throwing lemons !

With friends and family working at British Airways, I am no fan of the budget airlines which are pushing the flag carriers to the wall but not principled enough that I have avoided flying with them. A regular Easyjet punter, I did fly with Ryanair to Tallinn on business and, whilst I have vowed never to fly with them again, I can see the attraction of reliable schedules coupled with flinging around the world for a few quid. (It is actually the garish, headache-inducing yellow in the cabin that was the final straw).

White’s presentation seemed to be yearning to suggest some subterfuge, fraud or illegitimacy in Ryanair that is simply not there. The airline carries almost 70 million passengers a year on one of the most modern fleets with punctuality that would make the Japanese blush. O’Leary has bargained hard – almost to the point of blackmail in withdrawing business from airports that do not meet the slot and landing fees that he is prepared to pay. He has maneuvered the likes of Boeing and Airbus to get possibly the lowest prices ever seen in the market on his fleet. So what ? My personal business ethos is win-win – his is clearly ‘not at any cost – only at my cost’ but this does not make him a crook. Certainly White conceded that Ryanair has a excellent safety record so no corners being cut with maintenance or aircrew; no underground revelations from staff other than they have to tow a pretty tough line to even be hired permanently by the airline. Again, nothing illegal. I would not want to work for them but O’Leary wants bums on seats, not Employer of the Year awards,

White told us nothing new. We know about the extra fees for payments, insurance, baggage and food. We clearly accept the ignominy of Ryanair’s cattle class to be able to travel on the cheap. No mention of the environmental impact; only crummy, out-of-focus camera fades and shots, plus the occasional finger-wagging from marketing and brand specialists. The point on the weariness that may hit the brand was well made, however, and the story of Ryanair is more about the psychology of sales and less about business ethics. They will lose the plot, be challenged or just plain negotiate their way out of commercially viable slots. I won’t cry about Ryanair’s eventual demise if it happens – it just would have been nice if this limp piece of journalism actually had more to say.

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