Ryanair and the BBC
Even before the programme Panorama was aired last night, both Ryanair and the BBC were jostling for the high ground. Ryanair claimed the programme was doing a hatchet job on them. The BBC said that Ryanair wanted editorial control over the programme content. The BBC, Ryanair said, that Ryanair’s CEO, Michael O’Leary wouldn’t give an interview although he talked to the presenter, Vivian White and dominated the short interview. In fact White look ruffled as O’Leary dominated the questions.
Did Ryanair over react?
They issued 3 press releases about the programme, more than on most things they mention. Overall, I felt the programme was reasonably even handed apart from possibly some sarcastic comments by White at one point and O’Leary claiming that Ryanair offer the best customer service. Panorama pointed out how effectively Ryanair had grown as well as how other airlines, BA and Virgin Atlantic included, had copied some of their attitudes to pricing. It remarked that every airline has off days and pointed out that BA had them as well. It pointed out the charges that have to get added on for online check-in (which is unavoidable) so that could be interpreted as a hidden charge. At one point a web designer pointed out some less than friendly content about booking travel insurance and White pointed out that the system had been altered to make it friendly since that part of the programme had been made. You could even say that Ryanair was listening to its critics.
Yes, the BBC had two Ryanair staff members who were less than complimentary. But given the size of the airline now, you could always find a couple of less than happy employees.
No, overall I think Ryanair hit out so strongly because they thought they were going to get attacked more than they were. But Panorama did point out the fickle nature of Ryanair passengers. Just as the airline attracts people who want cheap fares, many passengers still want the service they get with more established airlines. If they don’t get it will they, in time, go elsewhere if another airline offers that? So could Ryanair decline as fast as it grew?