Elevating the PR stunt to an art form with Ryanair Bookmark and Share

Low-cost airline Ryanair has made something of a name for themselves by introducing innovative (some would say off-the-wall) schemes to cut costs and raise revenues.  Critics say that some of these ideas are put forth at the expense of providing a good customer experience for passengers, whilst proponents praise the airline for its forward-thinking and cutting edge business sense.Even though some of Ryanair’s announcements have ended up being nothing but jokes, other ideas they’ve suggested seem entirely plausible upon first hearing.

Some of the “innovations” they’ve come up with this year alone have included a fat tax for passengers who are overweight to the point of invading other passengers’ “spaces” (that one’s been scrapped), and allowing only online check-ins to phase out the use of their airport check-in desks.  It’s also been reported that the airline was considering charging people for sick bags and even to use on-board toilets (you may remember the “spend a pound to spend a penny” quote from news reports at the time).

The most recent announcement from the company is that they are looking to make some passengers stand during flights.  Michael O’Leary, chief executive of the company, has apparently even held talks with US plane manufacturer Boeing about designing an aircraft with standing room.  The idea is to charge passengers less (and possibly even nothing) for “bar stools” with seat belts for passengers to wear around their waists, and O’Leary is currently seeking approval from the Irish Aviation Authority before ordering a new fleet, according to The Sun newspaper.

A similar plan is being considered by the Chinese airline Spring. They estimate that up to fifty percent more passengers could be transported, and costs could be cut by around twenty percent.

If some of these mad cost-cutting/revenue-increasing ideas ever spill over into other areas, you have to wonder what would happen somewhere like Bristol Airport, one of Ryanair’s UK flight hubs.  Imagine booking Bristol Airport parking, arriving at the car park, and then being told your car will need to be stored on its side so more vehicles can be squeezed in.  The mind boggles.

No matter what people might think about some of Ryanair’s ideas, it can’t be denied that someone in that company has a knack for attracting media attention with press releases designed to inspire laughter, outrage or disbelief…often simultaneously.  There is a method to their madness, though.  Every time a new outrageous “innovation” is announced, there always seems to be a mention of some new promotion the airline is offering customers.  A wise person once said something like “Any publicity is good publicity”.Mr O’Leary recognises this, and uses the media deftly to his and his company’s advantage.  There’s never anything wrong with getting up the noses of people whose noses deserve to be gotten up in, and that’s something Michael O’Leary and his PR team are very good at.


One Response to “Elevating the PR stunt to an art form with Ryanair”

  1. Roman on July 22nd, 2009 4:34 am

    i totally agree with you, you’re right. Actually Andrew Davis, Boeing’s communication manager, said that due to securities issues they were not considering making passengers stand during flights. So i think it’s just an O’leary trick to make people talk about his firm.

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