How availability not price or equity helps Ryanair

by Nigel Hollis | October 04, 2017

Marketing Week recently reported that attitudes toward budget airline Ryanair suffered a nose dive after the company was forced to cancel thousands of flights. At times like these a reputation for low prices may not be enough to encourage fliers to forgive and forget.

Problems with Ryanair’s holiday roster led Europe’s largest air carrier to tell 400,000 passengers that their flight has been cancelled.

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The Guardian reports CEO Michael O’Leary as admitting the mess was his to clear up but also quoted him as saying,

“Our booking engine is full of passengers who have sworn they will never fly with us again.”

O’Leary suggested Ryanair’s low prices are the reason passengers return in spite of a bad experience.

O’Leary’s comments are consistent with those of Kenny Jacobs, CMO at Ryanair, who stated in an interview with Marketing Week,

“short-haul flying is a functional thing, it’s not an emotional thing.”

The evidence seems to prove Mr. Jacobs better be right, Ryanair flies more people each year than EasyJet in spite of the fact that BrandZ data from the UK last year suggests that almost twice as many people feel positively toward EasyJet than toward RyanairDoes this confirm that brand equity is irrelevant? Or is the positive predisposition toward EasyJet outweighed by Ryanair’s cheap prices? I would suggest the answer actually has more to do with the scale of Ryanair’s operations. Ryanair is hardly alone in offering value flights and there is little perceived difference between EasyJet and Ryanair when it comes to price. So what is the essential difference between the two? It is the number of routes flown. In 2015 Ryanair had 1600 routes compared to 755 for EasyJet. Today the numbers are higher but the differential remains the same.

This helps explain the huge dichotomy flip flop between equity and flights. Ryanair offers nearly 60 percent more route options and so is simply more available than EasyJet, giving it the edge over the better-liked airline. On a per route basis more people fly with EasyJet, directly in line with the difference in brand equity.

So are people likely to keep flying with Ryanair? Yes, but it is the combination of availability and a reputation for low prices that will get them to do so, not cheap prices alone. But what do you think? Please share your thoughts. 

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  1. Bob Barnes, October 05, 2017
    We all have airlines we prefer to fly with - and Ryan Air ISN'T one of mine. But if they are the airline flying from where I want to go to from the airport I prefer to fly from and at a time that works, I'm likely to go with them. Though we do have a choice, it's not that often that there are two airlines flying the route you want at exactly the same time you want. So, before price, comfort and reliability of service comes into play, you're usually restricted to only having one (or at best two) airline option(s) that flies to where and when you want to go.

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