Ryanair fuel sob story ends with price rise misery
So when one of their head honchos announced that a rise in airplane fuel prices will be passed onto the consumer in the form of an average 12% higher air fares until March next year, then it's worth taking a moment to unravel the subtext here.
Because, following this supposedly bad news, you can guarantee the budget airline will shortly launch an air fare sale to outposts like Posnan and Bydgoszcz, offering saver deals before prices must rise thanks to soaring fuel costs. As panicked passengers snap up these last-minute seat deals, Ryanair can laugh all the way to the bank.
Fuel price rise or not, the airline has already bought 90% of its requirement for this year and with profits of £138 million to the end of June – a massive rise of 50% on the same time last year – the cost of that fuel is already absorbed. Meaning any price rises in the next few months are simply shoring up profit for next year's figures.
It's chief executive Michael O'Leary knows how to seize a headline. There's passengers having to pay a pound to pee. Then there was idea of selling standing room on flights. There was all the publicity over the dodgy adverts for winter sun in Scandanavia. You name a marketing ploy, Ryanair will try it. And good luck to 'em because it's a competitive world out there and shy bairns get no sweets, as they say oop north.
The formula has definitely worked, with passenger numbers up 18% to 18 million in the last year, pipping the orange crowd at easyJet at the post with their still respectable 17.3% rise. It's that difference 0.7% that is crucial, however, and whoever manages to seize that wins the riches and the psychological battle against not just the opposition but the travelling public.
Earlier this year, when flagging up the possibility of increased air fares, Mr O'Leary said his competitors would have no option but to increase their own prices when faced with rising fuel costs. This, he said, would make Ryanair's air fares even more affordable. Here we are just a few months down the line and the strategy has changed a little.
I don't know about luck, but Ryanair certainly have the pluck of the Irish!