Ryanair’s quarterly results which were announced yesterday show Ryanair’s real problem. That is not the loss itself (quite common for airlines in the weak shoulder quarter and not so surprising if the company is going through a transformation) but the fact that they had to wheel out their C.O.O, Michael Cawley to front interviews.
The airline is anxious to pull Michael O’Leary away from the frontline and appear less aggressive but Mr Cawley is about to retire – I actually read an interview with him in December which he said was “his very last interview”.
All he could do was resort to the same old defenisve/aggressive nonsense that Ryanair was Europe’s favourite airline, that it was carrying more passengers and that its fares are 40-50% cheaper than easyJet and British Airways. On how many routes do Ryanair actually compete with these two airlines? It was all a slightly quieter version of the old O’Leary style. Big on bluster and short on facts. There was little about the company’s plans to become more friendly and no information about what they hoped this would do for their figures. In short, nothing to tempt either a potential customer or shareholder.
The airline is moving away from its initial growth phase and desperately needs someone at the top who can show the world the airline has matured. I have a strong feeling that as long as Mr O’Leary is there, no suitably qualified candidate will present themselves.
That is Ryanair’s real problem – and they do not look close to solving it.