Ryanair has no plans to radically overhaul the way it is managed and has already unveiled most of the promised customer service improvements in an effort to improve its image, chief executive Michael O’Leary said.
The charismatic and outspoken O’Leary has said he wants to overhaul an “abrupt culture” at Europe’s biggest airline, famous for its charges that have annoyed some flyers.
Having said in September he took responsibility for the impact of “personal character deformities” on how the company was managed, O’Leary now says that comment was tongue-in-cheek.
The revamp, he said, would not go significantly beyond the overhaul of its website and a series of fee cuts announced recently.
“There’s no grand transformation,” said O’Leary, who has been regularly accused of treating customers, staff and regulators in an abrasive manner.
“I don’t understand why... there is this kind of impression we have had some Pauline conversion here to customer service,” he said, referring to commentators comparing his comments at Ryanair’s annual meeting with the biblical conversion of St Paul on the road to Damascus. “We have always had brilliant customer service.”
Since the AGM, Ryanair has addressed major gripes by halving the cost of checking bags, slashing the fee for reprinting boarding passes and allowing a small second carry-on bag for free.
It also rolled out a major overhaul of its website to cut pop-ups and a security puzzle that customers had to complete to prove they were not automated users trawling the site.
But O’Leary has continued his trademark use of bad language and jibes at customers, joking on Twitter that he would break a customer’s ankle if she didn’t fly again soon with Ryanair and saying the airline’s planes were powered by his “bullshit”.
And the airline has since started legal action against a pilot group fighting for union recognition, the latest in a stream of court cases that have also targeted media and regulators.
Whatever complaints people may have with O’Leary’s personality they are still flying Ryanair, with the airline reporting its Oct traffic had grown 6% to 8.02m passengers.
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