Nicer Ryanair flies high after customer service overhaul

Ryanair expects profits to be at the top end of guidance at year end

Michael O’Leary pictured at the Ryanair AGM.

Michael O’Leary pictured at the Ryanair AGM.

 

Once upon a time (last year), Ryanair contacted The Irish Times to point out it had been referred to inaccurately as a “no-frills airline”. Ryanair said it, in fact, had lots of frills, such as on-board catering, online check-in and all-leather seats.

Not long after this event, the airline admitted it had an image problem. It may have had “frills”, but it was losing money.

Chief executive Michael O’Leary said the customer care culture at Ryanair was – possibly – “abrupt” and promised to “eliminate things that unnecessarily piss people off” after shareholders complained the airline’s brash approach was hitting sales.

Consumers were growing tired of hidden charges and poor customer service.

Since last year’s AGM, Ryanair has beefed up customer service and introduced family-friendly tickets, better baggage rules, easier online booking, a business service and automatically assigned seats. The on-time jingle – hated by everyone except the airline’s executives – has been silenced.

It also kissed and made up with travel agents.

The airline now expects to carry an extra one million customers this year. This week, Ryanair said it expects year-end profits to be at the top end of guidance due to the success of the customer service initiatives that have boosted passenger numbers.

It has moved its annual net profit towards the upper end of its previously guided €620 million to €650 million range. It’s nice to be nice and, in Ryanair’s case, it pays to be nice.

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