than 100 million passengers transported last year, Ryanair is the actual
biggest airline company in Europe and one of the 5 biggest worldwide. Ryanair is obviously one of the most lucrative airline
companies, a success that can be explained by a brilliant but controversial
strategy. Indeed, Ryanair is known for putting forward profit rather than
ethic. The company has
appeared recently in the bottom 10 of an « ethical
ranking » of 580 companies based on multiple
criteria such as safety, honesty and worker feedback. A website called ‘ihateryanair.co.uk’
has even been created. This report will highlight different
unethical actions Ryanair is making and how to adjust that.
Honesty and Fair Dealing:
The most revolting thing for
Ryanair’s customers is
Honesty and Fair Dealing. First, Ryanair continues
to beat records in terms of net profit and over 20% of their revenue has come from sources outside
of airline tickets. Their business model is based on reducing the appearing
costs of tickets. To be able to do this, hidden charges or fees are imposed to
customers to cover the deficiency, leading the customer to face the financial
burden, not the airline. Ryanair imposes an outstanding number of irritating
exorbitant charges as the $208
for a name change on the boarding pass or the $3.50 charge to bring a bottle of
water with you on the airlines aircraft. There is also a 60$ tax if the
customer forgets his boarding pass, about that, Michael O’Leary, the controversial Ryanair’s boss said “We think they should pay
60$ for being so stupid”. On top of that, the company is
inside a huge scandal because it made up completely immoral and absurd charges
such as fees for being overweight or to use the bathrooms. O’Leary said, « Nobody wants to sit
beside a really fat bastard on board».
company is actually demoralizing individuals and has to change its attitude, at
the moment, it is boosting profit rather than ethic. In 2009, Ryanair received
half a billion dollars from all these fees, so customer feel cheated when all
the fees add up. The attitude adopted by the company reduce trust and makes
consumers re-question the initial proposition.
On top of that, Ryanair’s
destination airports represent a real issue for customers. Often, the
destination airport is located far away from the city the customers wanted to
land in, because airport landing charges are cheaper at «deserted » airports. This is a benefit for Ryanair, but not for the customer who may
have to pay more to travel to the city centre… Again, Ryanair took profit
instead of ethic as a privilege, leading the customer in trouble.
A question come up at this stage: ‘Has Ryanair pushed the abuses too far for customers to
accept?’. As expected, according to a BBC
survey conducted in 2008, a strong majority of people said they would never fly
with Ryanair again. Indeed, company is losing trust and I believe they have to make
their actual strategy more ethically correct.
Treatment of workers employed directly or indirectly :
boss recently said, proudly :
“MBA students come out with: ‘My staff is my most important asset.’
Bullshit. Staff is usually your biggest cost. We all employ some lazy bastards
who needs a kick up the backside.” This sentence briefly gives an idea on
how Ryanair workers are treated.
According to employee satisfaction surveys, Ryanair’s employees often
leave the company with a bad experience working in it. I could find many
reasons to that.
First, flight attendant are the ones who must charge customers immoral fees
imposed by the company as charging a customer for being overweight, use the
bathrooms or pay for water. Flight attendants find the job psychologically
challenging and are the ones suffering in this case for the company’s sake.
According to Sophie Growcoot, a former employee of Crewlink, acting as a
contractor for Ryanair, complaint virulently at the budget airline company on
her working conditions. According to the Independent, Growcoot explained that
she was forced to take three months of compulsory unpaid leave a year during
winter, when air traffic is slower, so the company can pay less salaries.
During that period, her contract forbad her from enrolling any additional
employment. Growcoot also protested about the company forcing employees pay
600$ their uniform and 2700$ for a safety course so one can work for them. In
addition, she says that employees are only paid for the time they are « in the air », not including
pre-flight briefings or delayed and cancelled flights for example.
On top of that, Ryanair employees aren’t paid much. According
to her, the salary for a flight attendant is only 20$ an hour without
contractual review and Michael O’Leary recently boasted about how little he pays
Growcoot also related an incident when she was called at
4 a.m to fly from Liverpool to Dublin on a standby day. When she arrived at the
airport, after paying 15$ for a taxi as public transportation wasn’t running at that hour, she has been
told that the flight has been cancelled because too few passengers were booked
on it. Then she was finally sent home without payment or so much as an apology.
qualify her working experience for Ryanair as a « total
nightmare » and says she has totally been « lured » before
signing the employment contract.
Some accuses the company of atrociously exploiting
staff members to increase profits. It appears outrageous for people that an
airline that reaches record profits every year doesn’t pay its
staff as they truly deserve. Again, Ryanair took profit instead of ethic as a privilege,
leading the customer in trouble.
Health and safety:
The third and last ethical
problem concerns health and safety. According to the Independent, the company
has recently been accused of restricting the amount of fuel in the tank that
would be used as a result of any delays. The article relates also one incident
that recently happened when a Ryanair flight had to make a pit stop
to fill the tank as it was lacking fuel to reach the destination.
Finally, concerning health facilities inside the
plane, Ryanair decided to add six more seats from removing two bathrooms,
leaving a whole plane with only one bathroom. This is not ethically correct to
leave 150+ people with only one bathroom on a place for 1-3 hours. This allowed
them to restrict the prices by approximately 3$ by ticket without having to sacrifice
profit but it may not be necessary due to all the bad publicity it caused. for
Finally, Michael O’Leary
recently came up with a new money-saving idea which consist of removing the « unnecessary » co-pilot or
replacing him by a flight attendant who could do the job if needed.
Recently, Ryanair appeared in the bottom 5 in a « best low-cost airlines company » ranking based on customer satisfaction. The top
1 was Airasia, which won this award 9 times in a row.
I have to recognize that there are many things to
adjust to make Ryanair ethically better. My suggestions will try to combine the
maximisation of profit with an ethical behaviour.
The first thing the company must do, if it wants
to keep its growth in the future, would be to regain customers trust, which are
the reason why they’re getting so much
profit. Losing trust means losing prospective/returning customers, which is not
a good idea if the company wants to keep its pace for a longer term. The
example of the budget airline Airasia which won 9 times in a row the award of
the « best low-cost airline company », based on customer satisfaction shows it well:
staying reasonable with the number of extra charges and respecting its
customers makes the passengers want to fly again with Airasia. Therefore, raising
the airfare price and removing absurd fees as being overweight or to access to
the toilets would already be a nice step forward, acting ethically better without
losing profit. Another manner to get on better terms with the passengers would
be to treat customers more humanely. First, removing two toilets could make the
airfare prices 3$ lower but it’s not worth all
the bad publicity it caused. Also, Ryanair chief executive, Michael O’Leary should stop being virulent in public and
disrespecting customers, leaving a bad image of the company to customers.
Secondly, Ryanair needs to stop exploiting its staff members. Former workers qualified their working
experience for the company as “modern slavery” (review on Glassdoor website). The company have to apply a payment reform. First, paying them for all
the time working, including pre-flight briefing, delays and offering allowances
for flight cancellations. Finally, I believe the company should opt for a
salary raise for flight attendants and pilots who are seriously underpaid.
To conclude, I believe
Ryanair should stop only worrying
about profit. This strategy
is actually working, but I believe the company should adopt an ethical
behaviour in the future if it wants to keep its customers. The BBC survey proves it, as it concluded
that a strong majority of people would never fly with Ryanair again.
But, are profit maximisation and ethical
Answer is yes, but in a longer term. I recognize
that removing fees and paying employees more could make the profit decrease,
but company will leave a great image if it start to act ethically better. If it
does so, people will be willing to fly with it again without losing any
prospective customer with time, which are the main source of profit for