The company that boasts the most aggressive PR in the sky, Irish airline Ryanair, announced this week that it had suffered a 85 per cent fall in first-quarter net profits thanks to rising fuel prices. The company warned it could plunge into the red for the full year and shares dipped 15 per cent immediately after the announcement. The firm instantly pledged to slash its fares by a further five per cent.
- The media reaction?
Ryanair is big news, not just because of the amount of passengers it carries but because of vocal CEO Michael O'Leary. O'Leary was typically bullish about his firm's prospects, but the airline was accused of not hedging its exposure to rising oil prices.
- Who are the PR players here?
O'Leary is a one-man PR machine, but he and his new head of communications Stephen McNamara have their work cut out on this one. McNamara replaced popular communications chief Peter Sherrard, who has gone to work for the Football Association of Ireland as director of communications.
- Anything to learn?
O'Leary's open and manic persona may not suit most CEOs, but the Irish firm's bold promise to cut fares further, despite the profit hits, gained widespread coverage and certainly reached the customers for which it was intended. As such, Ryanair made some positive ground out of a less than positive day. Ryanair deputy chief executive Howard Millar said the airline will also pick up the routes and passengers dropped by less financially stable airlines that Ryanair expects to go bust over the next year.
£32 - Price to which average flight is expected to fall.