But well before anyone had seen the documentary, the airline seized control of the media agenda, attacking C4's publicity photo showing a stewardess asleep on an aircraft door, and offering millions of free seats.
Ryanair's ebullient boss Michael O'Leary was widely quoted in the press and went live on air in Ireland to debate the issues with Dispatches' producer.
Despite appearing relaxed about its image – Ryanair spends little on frills, logos or colour advertising – O'Leary is actually obsessive about reputation.
He recognises that he is the brand of the airline and will never shirk the media glare. His straight-talking approach offends some, but endears him to many journalists weary of spin and corporate double-speak.
Ryanair churns out a dozen press releases a week, but the message is frighteningly consistent: we fly you from A to B, safely, punctually and more cheaply than any other airline. Everything else is a distraction.
The Achilles heel for Europe's fastest growing airline is that its cost-cutting zeal could be perceived as putting safety at risk. O'Leary knows this, and his offensive was intended to rebut any such implications. So far, Ryanair's safety record is sound, but should the Department of Transport find any fault in light of the Dispatches investigation it would be a major blow.
Ryanair's media relations rigour should be lauded and copied, but the airline must be even more religious in ensuring passenger safety measures remain paramount.
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