Ryanair recently failed to renew its contract with its long-standing PR company and is currently touting around the market for a new company. Not surprisingly, the low fees offered (around £5,000 a month is the rumour) are thought to be putting many companies off.
I wonder if they really need a company at all because they seem to be doing quite well by themselves. Their “friendship”with The Sunday Times Business Section is certainly blooming. Last Sunday’s edition carried one article about the on-going delays and cancellations with easyJet and then a full page hagiography, sorry, interview, with Michael O’Leary. It is reminiscent of Virgin Atlantic in its prime when every Sunday featured slavishly reproduced “news” from the bearded one.
For once, we will not criticise newspapers doing the bidding of PR companies and their clients because the more publicity there is for easyJet’s problems, the more likely they are to be sorted out and the easier it will be for passengers to claim compensation when appropriate.
In Britain, easyJet are still refusing to accept that they are seriously at fault. The statement, “We apologise to our passengers for the recent drop in our punctuality, which was impacted by number of factors, including air traffic control strikes in France, Spain and Greece” does not even attempt to explain why they have been affected more severely than other airlines.
The situation in Germany is rather clearer thanks to the sterling work of some newspapers and television stations who have run some seriously damaging stories on the airline. EasyJet have been forced to make a sudden announcement that they are hiring more pilots and cabin crew for their Berlin base to resolve the problem. This is surely a tacit admission that understaffing is to blame for the delays in Germany and that they cannot avoid claims under the EU Delayed and Cancelled flights provisions.
So, can we just tactfully suggest to the person who is looking after Ryanair’s PR at the moment that they follow the same tactics they have used with The Sunday Times and get a few similar articles into The Sun and The Daily Mail? You will be doing us all a favour – and showing that do-it-yourself PR can be just as successful as hiring expensive companies.
It is good to see that easyJet is finally being forced to come clean about its crewing problems. In their results statement yesterday they said that their operating costs would be increased and the stockmarket has marked down their shares. This is good news for travellers. The market tends to react very slowly to events (the crew shortage has been known about for months) but they are unlikley to buy the airline’s shares until they are convinced that they have the problem solved. Add to that some serious pressure from Stelios, who is not at all happy about his “easy” brand being misused, and it should only be a matter of time before easyJet is running properly again. However we would not rush to travel with them over the next few months since new crew cannot be trained overnight.
Clearly, those responsible for planning the crewing and schedules of the airline need to be replaced before one can have full confidence in the company again.