13 JUNE 2011

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Article from BTNews 13 JUNE 2011

COMMENT: Michael OLeary drops his foot in it. Ryanair prices to come down?

There can be no doubt that since becoming CEO of a small and somewhat moribund Ryanair in 1994 Michael O’Leary has rejuvenated the short inter-Europe airline sector.  Much of what he has achieved is to his credit.  Certainly the market needed shaking up but perhaps it was a decade earlier that some bright soul really put his finger on it when the name Airbus was chosen for the new aircraft manufacturing consortium.

Air bus is exactly what Ryanair offers.  There is no romance in the style of aviation that O’Leary personifies.  The fact that his numbers continue to grow seems to indicate that people follow the crowd.  The title “The world’s most annoying airline” is well justified.

The man has been incredibly lucky.  He was there when the old European aviation route licence rules came down.  He was there when Boeing was desperate to sell aircraft.  He was there when the internet came in together with the rise of the credit card.  And he was only too happy to help out airports in the back of beyond desperate to attract business.  He is effectively a UK airline, with his largest base at Stansted, but is behoven to the Irish CAA, which does not have the same resources as its British counterpart.  He can attack Westminster in his advertisements.  One cannot see British Airways or its Chief Executive doing the same in the Dublin media.

But Mr O’Leary is both Jekyll and Hyde or, as someone put it the other day, has the double standards of Sepp Blatter.  When it comes to the media Michael speaks the truth, the half truth, and nothing like the truth.  Sadly most of the press are gullible.  His blaspheming is notorious, which does his credit no good at all.  It achieves nothing and actually shows up in a bad light one side of his character.  He is sadly seen by part of the Irish establishment as the man of the moment, money being the king.  Others in the Emerald Isle think the opposite and he is loathed. 

With its sometimes lack of judgment Ryanair has within the last week praised the UK CAA ruling that Gatwick Airport has applied discriminatory charges for check-in facilities.  Under what is now an agreed unfair regime, all travellers are charged for check-in facilities, even though Ryanair’s passengers have to check-in online and the majority (the airline's statistics) travel with hand luggage only.

Ryanair travellers have therefore been subsidising the check-in costs of other carriers.  It would seem that by April 2012 these charges must come off the monies paid by Ryanair.

But will Ryanair reduce prices to clients too?

Based on past performances passengers will not benefit by one penny, or even 100th part of a Euro.  Ryanair will pocket the reduction and use some subterfuge in order to ensure that any savings are not passed on.  This is the airline that refuses to return APD to customers who do not travel on the spurious grounds that the transaction would cost too much.  The airline makes millions from this manoeuvre.  This is the airline who charge every passenger one pound to assist wheelchair clients, another money-spinner.

AERBT tried booking Luton to Dublin in one week’s time.  We went for the cheapest flight available, asked for priority booking (which does work at Luton) and added a (small) 15k bag.

The £20.99 fare became £81.82. 

We still do not know what the taxes and fees cover and, since we never pressed ‘buy’, what the debit and credit charges are.  These do not seem to be shown on the site.
          
   20.99    Adult
   26.83    Taxes and fees
     2.00    EU 261 Levy
     6.00    Web check-in
   20.00    Bag
     5.00    Priority boarding
     1.00    Ticket confirmation Charge
 £81.82    TOTAL

Transparency is the buzz word.  See also our On Tour report on IATA.  Passengers don’t mind paying a reasonable fare (and at the end of the day Ryanair’s fares are for the most part reasonable).  But they want to see what they are actually paying straight away.  They can then choose if they want to be flown to the middle of somewhere, or the middle of nowhere and in what style.  Ryanair must toe the line or be seriously fined.

Malcolm Ginsberg

Editor in Chief

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