For the half-year to 30 June 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Alberto Bellan, Darren Meale and Nadia Zegze.

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Wednesday, 13 October 2010

A tale of two airlines

Cheap, no-frills airlines Ryanair and easyJet have both been in the news of late, as many of the IPKat's excited correspondents have kept reminding him.  Accordingly he thought he'd compose this little piece in the hope that the flow of "I wonder if you've spotted this ..." emails (which the Kats love, if there aren't too many of them) will slow down a little.


Lots of people, it seems, hate Ryanair.  This feeling of dislike cannot be attributed to a single source.  For some it is jealousy of their remarkable air-fare pricing. Others envy their 'landing-on-time' statistics. For others, hatred is born of first-hand experience of their pre-flight routines, hidden charges and sheer callousness in the face of human need and frailty.  But very few people do anything about it.

Not so Robert Tyler. Making use of the internet's excellent blogging facilities which, being free, are only a little cheaper than Ryanair's best bargains, he launched an "I Hate Ryanair" weblog.  Occupying the precious URL IHateRyanair.co.uk, this blog became quite popular. Calling Ryanair the "world's most hated airline" and "a bunch of filthy thieving bastards", Tyler hosted fiercely critical posts which included "an interview with a man allegedly arrested for refusing to pay for a sandwich, and a lampoon of the airline's comment that it might provide standing room on its flights". This attracted the airline's ire, and Nominet was duly invited to order Tyler to hand the address over to it.

... but would he have the devil's own
job avoiding the hidden charges?
On the legal side of things, adjudicator Jane Seager considered that nothing in the subject matter on the site breached Nominet policy: while Ryanair had some goodwill and reputation in legal terms, it had also built up a reservoir of substantial dissatisfaction over its services.  Indeed, it also generated 'badwill' in that for many folk it had become synonymous with trying to obtain maximum money from customers through the use of unappealing revenue-generating techniques. Said Seager, the primary function of the site was to criticise Ryanair, not to disrupt its business:
‘Any disruption resulting from criticism appearing on a website is merely something businesses have to deal with on a daily basis.’
However, links to third party websites that earned Mr Tyler money were problematic since he only earned money (a paltry £322, it seems) because of the traffic to the website: such traffic must have been influenced by the domain name. On this basis Tyler had effectively taken unfair advantage of Ryanair’s rights in order to gain a financial advantage.  "It is with some regret", said the adjudicator, that the name would therefore be forfeited.  Dedicated readers can go to Nominet's decision-search facility and help themselves to the 22-page PDF of the decision, if they so desire [nb if any suitable qualified person wants to write this decision up a a Current Intelligence note for JIPLP, get in touch with Jeremy here].

Ryanair's victory celebrations did not last long since the site, in true internet tradition, has shifted to ihateryanair.org where, says Tyler, "we will continue to provide you with all the latest on how this pathetic excuse for an airline will attempt to extract cash from you through sneaky hidden charges, fly you to places that are not where you actually want to go, and leave you stranded when the cr*p hits the fan."

Sources: Daily Mail here; The Guardian here
Price of one-way fare from Bristol to Dublin, offered today: £7.  Hidden and extra charges here.


A tail of more than two airlines
easyJet have had their share of bad press over the years, particularly when it comes to nibbling away at the prefix "easy" which a number of other businesses have wrongly assumed to be an ordinary English adjective meaning the opposite of "difficult".  Still, "EasyJet flying high after deal with Stelios" is the news headline that warms the cockles of City investors' hearts (those City investors who read the Daily Mirror, that is). In short
"easyJet escaped a costly name change after clinching a big money deal with company founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou. Sir Stelios, whose family owns 37% of the budget airline, will pocket a £9million sweetener after agreeing to scrap a handcuff clause.
For the past decade, the tycoon has charged the company £1 a year to use the “easy” name but slapped a cap on how much money it can make from tie-ups with car hire firms and hotels, which compete with other parts of his easy empire.
Under the new deal, which avoids a High Court showdown, the sky’s the limit for easyJet.
In exchange, Sir Stelios will pocket £4m in year one, £5m in year two, plus a 0.25% cut of group sales going forward. He’ll also get £300,000 a year for not giving the “easy” name to another airline.
EasyJet boss Carolyn McCall told Your Money: “Stelios has got a lot of money and we think the deal is fair and reasonable.”
£300,000 a year doesn't sound like a lot of money, but the IPKat has calculated that, if the noble knight carries no luggage and manages not to incur any check-in charges, he can take that Ryanair flight backwards and forwards between Bristol and Dublin as many as 42,857 times.  Merpel, who loves arithmetic, points out that the number is a lovely recurring one: the number of flights is actually 42,857.1428571 -- though if he starts in Bristol it's not clear where exactly he'll have to bail out.

2 comments:

John Leeming said...

Merpel might like to know that if you divide any (non-recurring, rational) number by 7 the sequence of digits 142857 always appears recurringly in the answer after some prefix.

Merpel said...

Thank you John. I knew that. We Kats know everything - but not always at the same time ...

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