[Update at end of post]
It’s not often that Zelo Street can claim to have scooped the Daily Mail – with all its resources and the aggression of its legendarily foul mouthed editor – but on one of today’s news items, we’ve beaten Dacre’s finest by nearly three weeks. But the news was out there for anyone who wanted to report on it, so the thought enters that this is a story run today not by omission but by choice.
Back on September 15 I looked at the latest wheeze from Ryanair, the Millwall of air carriers (everybody hates us and we don’t care), for covering their backsides when accused of excessive charges for processing debit card deals. This was the Ryanair Cash Passport, a pre-paid Mastercard and now the only way to avoid the £6 per person per sector charge.
So when the Mail starts its piece “Ryanair was accused yesterday”, that might be true for the Daily Mail newsroom, but not to the Guardian, or Which? magazine – or the wider travel trade. And here there is a parallel with the “BBC Abandons Year Of Our Lord” fiction which the Mail has been running with such gusto of late: the source for this tale was also not new news.
And that suggests that this is not routine reporting, but the start of a concerted bout of Mail aggression aimed at Michael O’Leary and his pals. The paper has run a succession of less than flattering pieces about Ryanair – maybe they looked in on Zelo Street to learn of the carrier’s practices and reputation – but this time it’s trowelled on (they charge for bottled water on board – who knew?).
The reasoning is not hard to find: every other carrier is happy to engage with travel agents (Ryanair has, with predictable lack of subtlety, branded them “parasites”), have their flights as part of DIY package deals, and even engage with those travel writers and promotions that the Mail likes to feature. Not Ryanair. And not to cooperate with the Dacre press is something that cannot be allowed.
So the Mail has started a “debate” to confirm that it is starting a serious campaign of aggression against Ryanair. This will get them precisely nowhere, and move the discussion over add-on fees not at all. Michael O’Leary, Stephen McNamara and the rest of the carrier’s team don’t care what Paul Dacre thinks: after all, they do most of their business outside the UK.
Still, it might sell a few more papers.
[UPDATE 1830 hours: after the slanted copy comes the pundit: Anna Smith has launched a tirade against Ryanair in the Mail, laughably titled "Ryanair's money grabbing rip-offs bring out our Dunkirk spirit". Readers are treated to the obligatory Third Reich comparison (Gestapo in this case), the Pound-to-use-the-toilet story, and complaints about how much a cup of tea costs on board. Looks like there may be more to come, but as I said earlier, it won't have any effect on Ryanair]