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Saturday 2 March 2013

Ryanair Stansted Mardy Strop

When it comes to selective storytelling and rank dishonesty wrapped up as news by the PR team, there are few who can hold a candle to Ryanair, the Millwall of air carriers (everybody hates us and we don’t care). The Maily Telegraph, many of whose readers use low cost carriers to access their holiday homes across an EU that they also manage to despise, has picked up the latest example.

Michael O'Leary spells out his customer service philosophy

Ryanair to cut down flights to Stansted over landing fee row” is the anguished headline, with Josie Ensor going on to explain “Ryanair had planned to increase the number of flights to and from the Essex airport by 5 per cent from April, but will now cut 170 flights across 43 routes a week because of increased fees at Stansted”. And why should this be?

Ryanair blamed its decision on a 6 per cent increase in charges at the airport”. Bingo! Listen to that bullshit detector scream! We’ve been here before: Michael O’Leary’s finest pulled the same stunt not so long ago at Alicante, and then at Manchester. Now look at the company’s route map and see all the routes operated from those two airports.

Yes, after throwing the mardy strop, Ryanair went back to both airports and put on more flights and routes. The return to Manchester was particularly humiliating: all services bar one had been pulled, but when they returned, there was no trumpeting of how lower charges had been secured. The most probable reason for that is that no reduction in charges had been secured.

So what’s the real reason for service reductions at Stansted? Simples. There isn’t the demand. Had there been, a 6% increase in handling charges – a matter of a few pence extra on each seat sold – would not have mattered one jot. The idea that Ryanair was going to add capacity in April is just bluster. They wouldn’t be able to fill their planes, so are matching capacity to reality.

Well, if that’s the case, why shout about it? Also straightforward: Stansted is being sold to Manchester Airports Group (MAG), and the O’Leary gang clearly think they can bully the new owners into giving them a discount. In this, they have another think coming: MAG management know from their experience at Manchester that Ryanair is all wind and piss.

But the Tel uses the “story” because it knows it will make those readers sit up and pay attention. Anyone else may usefully ignore Ryanair’s self promoting guff and remember that there is more than one low cost carrier ready to fly you to southern Europe.

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