Some business names remain synonymous with the brands they built up, even after they have taken a back seat or left the stage: Bill Gates, for many, is still Mr Microsoft. So it is with Stelios Haji-Ioannou. Most still associate him with EasyJet, even though he no longer has a controlling interest in the company and has even been in dispute with it recently.
And one of those mistakenly aligning Stelios with EasyJet has been Michael O’Leary, the combative and usually unapologetic CEO of Ryanair, the Millwall of air carriers (everybody hates us and we don’t care). But in O’Leary’s case, his mistake has led Stelios to slap a libel suit on him, with the whole business being settled – not in O’Leary’s favour – in court.
Ryanair have for some time goaded EasyJet about the latter no longer releasing punctuality statistics. And little good it has done them. So the focus of the attack was switched to Stelios, whom Ryanair portrayed as a Pinocchio figure. Stelios took exception to the clear suggestion of personal dishonesty, and now Ryanair are 50k worse off, plus perhaps another 200k of legal fees.
But, for those of us who occasionally tire of Ryanair’s in-your-face publicity, the icing on the cake is that rare thing, an official and unequivocal apology. It’s on their website right now. And over at the EasyJet equivalent? No mention, and for one very good reason: it’s nothing to do with them.
And Ryanair are no nearer getting those statistics. Marvellous, as Harry Callahan might have observed.