Ryanair today announced a large drop in their full year profits which are down 78%. After adjustments (which seems to be an accounting term used for trying to make things look better) they have actually posted a loss of £145.9 Million. They argue that this is all due to a revaluing of their investment in Aer Lingus but for us, this is more to do with the contemptuous way they are treating their brand and their customers.
Ryanair claim they offer many of their flights free, but yet they are still an unloved brand that many of us choose to use through lack of alternative rather than through active and positive decision making. At 20.30 and 20.31 last night two flights left Malaga bound for East Midlands Airport. Two different carriers flying the same route at the same time, which would you say was the busier?
Ryanair is a brand that is all based on price. You expect them to be slow, late and unpleasant and barely functional (even though they actually have a very good record for timekeeping), but you put up with a lot whilst the price is low. If the price rises, you will actively seek out alternatives. Now, in our opinion, many people actively dislike Ryanair.
Conversations with Michael O’Leary, the outspoken chief of the airline business, on the BBC about possibly charging people to use their toilets whilst in mid air hardly endear them to the very people they are asking to pay to fly with them.
In a poll by Tripadvisor of 4,000 of its members in 2006, were the least popular airline – an unwanted accolade they have gone on to retain in 2007 and 2008. In theory, people would therefore not use them. But their continued growth since then has proved that, whilst the price is right, people will still travel with them.
Maybe this drop in profits is the sign that their contemptuous treatment of customers and having a brand that stands for ‘tricking’ customers into paying more is one that is just not sustainable.
Michael O’Leary was talking recently on German TV about potentially offering long haul flights and what their version of business class could stand for. You can view that here, but watch out as he speaks less than politely.
In an interview this morning for the BBC, he said that their continued growth proves that Business Class is dead (as an obvious dig at British airways), but which is it to be? Blow Jobs on Business Class or sticking to their low cost, low service model?
With any brand, you have to decide what makes you different and then deliver it beautifully and consistently in every single way. Ryanair certainly deliver consistently, but beautifully, I think not.
I know who I’ve booked my family holiday flights with in the summer and it isn’t Ryanair.