Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Ryanair: 'the irresponsible face of capitalism'

This afternoon, from RTÉ Business:
Asked about facilities at Dublin Airport, Mr [Michael] O'Leary [CEO of Ryanair] said he had no plans to move Ryanair's check-in facilities to a new purpose-built area in the basement of the terminal, which will be up and running by the end of the month. In what appeared to be a challenge to the Dublin Airport Authority, he said he would need to see 'incentives' to encourage him to do so.
That final clause reminds Malcolm of the to-and-froings that Ryanair got into, trying to cover up the financial support (some £1.25M of public money) they demanded (and got) from City of Derry Airport. And, even then, one of their aircraft preferred Ballykelly (six miles east) to Derry airport.

Meanwhile, Malcolm has sworn two solemn oaths for this New Year:

  • that John Barleycorn must die (this, on the strong counsel of his GP, over the matter of imbibing, hypertension and weight); and
  • never, ever, no matter what, to fly Ryanair.
The latter item needs explication. In the late Summer, Malcolm and his dearly-beloved flew from Stansted to Dublin. The journey was made thoroughly nasty by:
  • Ryanair's exploitative interpretation of the regulations on baggage security;
  • Constant nagging advertising on the p.a. system;
  • the squalor of the outward leg (dripping filth in the seat-back pocket, a previous passenger's detritus under the seat-pad);
  • the sheer unpleasantness of the Ryanair facility at Dublin Airport.
Last February, both the Belfast Telegraph and Channel 4's Dispatches looked at Ryanair's procedures:
Two Dispatches undercover reporters spent five months secretly filming Ryanair's training programme and onboard flights as members of the cabin crew . The reporters reveal what really takes place behind the scenes: inadequate safety and security checks, dirty planes, exhausted cabin crew and pilots complaining about the number of hours they have to fly. And watch Ryanair staff speaking frankly about their experiences and attitudes towards passengers.
The "dirty planes" bit included the ploy of spraying aftershave on vomit rather than clean it up.

Anyone who has not had the experience should be aware of what Ryanair at Dublin means:

  • Expect a long hike across the tarmac to a Portacabin.
  • The Portacabin will be solid with bodies, through which one picks one's way.
  • There is now a corridor, zig-zagging several leagues long, to the Terminal proper.
  • Baggage will be dispensed with as much chaos as possible.
  • The return leg will repeat the experience in reverse,
  • with the added discomfort of an extended wait in the Portacabin, with minimal refreshment, toilet or seating facilities.
When Ian Pearson had took a shot at Ryanair, Malcolm cheered:
In an interview with the Guardian newspaper, junior Environment Minister Ian Pearson branded Ryanair 'the irresponsible face of capitalism' and described Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary as 'completely off the wall' on the issue of climate change.
Not just "on the issue of climate change", Malcolm feels. Ryanair are unrepentant in running the most down-market operation possible. Malcolm sees this as the epitome of arrogant customer-carelessness, for which nationalisation once was blamed.

Malcolm regrets not following his instinct from previous experience, and not noting the TripAdvisor finding:
Ryanair has been voted the world's least favourite airline as its ultra-frugal approach to flying wins millions of customers but very few fans.
So, next month, it's back to EasyJet: the orange decor is disturbing, the advertising is still intrusive, time-keeping is less than perfect ... but, it's not third-world cattle class.

And Malcolm raises his glass (of fizzy water) to
Michael Coulston, who set up a web site critical of Ryanair's business practices. Sphere: Related Content

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