|BBC Panorama's Vivian White.
As Ryanair prepares to become the first airline to eliminate check-in desks and go completely online, the BBC's Panorama reporter Vivian White investigates the airline's cost-cutting measures in a programme to be broadcast on Monday at 8:30 pm. Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary says the BBC has a ‘Hatchet Job’ agenda.
Ryanair is the only significant international Irish consumer brand which evolved during the Celtic Tiger period and is one of world's largest airlines.
Vivian White wrote to Ryanair's Stephen McNamara in August:
As I said when I called this morning, Panorama is just starting to prepare a programme on Ryanair which we would presently intend to transmit at the beginning of October- that is as Ryanair goes over to an entirely on-line booking scheme - in other words to coincide with another public step by Ryanair, ahead, or out of line, with other companies in the same business.
We would very much like your help, cooperation, and participation in this film - in particular to have a research meeting early on, and to talk to Michael O'Leary on camera.
I am the reporter on the programme and my phone number is XXXXXX; the producer is Alan Holland; the assistant producer is Claire Dutfield-Onono.
We are just starting but I anticipate that the headline issues in the film will be these:
1) what is the secret of Ryanair's success- what is the business model - if Ryanair is doing well how come anyone else is doing badly
2) How come Ryanair is the airline (even the consumer company) which people seem to have the strongest feelings about (which we will reflect in the film) ... and 3) does Michael O'Leary mind about all that- and how vital is he to Ryanair?
Within these broad headings specific questions (which we would like to research further with you) that now occur to us include:
How / is Ryanair surviving the recession
How / is it affecting the company's operations- cutbacks.
Going fully on-line. Risks? Road-tested?
The low-cost business model. In the longer term will Ryanair (like Tesco's in the UK ) - "mature" and start offering a range of products - not just pile-em high and sell 'em cheap..?
Is the present customer proposition transparent - fair - how many passengers actually pay above the quoted price for extras - would a simpler "we'll carry you for x" model be fairer ?
Does Ryanair mind about having provoked such furious on-line protests by very dissatisfied customers?
Does Ryanair mind about PR and its own reputation ..and what does it do about it?
Ryanair and advertising: why it doesn't or hardly does.
What do its own customer surveys say about customer satisfaction/dissatisfaction.
Has Ryanair got an "ideal" "target" customer in mind.
Michael O'Leary's own anti-PR / shoot from the hip PR tactics.
As I say we may think of or come across more or other obvious questions later - or you may draw them to our attention - so the above is not a full and final menu but a good guide as to what we have in mind now.
Ryanair on Sunday accused BBC Panorama of telling blatant lies, in addition to blocking the truth in its ‘Hatchet Job’ programme on Ryanair.
Ryanair said in a statement to the London Times yesterday, a spokesman for BBC Panorama falsely claimed that: “We wanted to interview Michael O’Leary but he wanted editorial control and that is something that no broadcaster would agree to.”
The airline said it sought no editorial control over this interview.
"All Ryanair asked for was that the interview, of whatever length (to be decided by the BBC) would not be edited, censored or cut by the Panorama editors. Ryanair offered to answer any questions, and believes that the reason that BBC Panorama turned down the interview was because Panorama wanted to cut or edit any Ryanair answers, which didn’t suit Panorama’s ‘Hatchet Job’ agenda," the company said.
Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary said: “BBC Panorama know that they have no case in this ‘Hatchet Job’ programme. We have already rubbished their false claims about hidden charges and an agreement with Airbus. It is a pity that Panorama, with all their resources, investigative journalists and the power of the BBC, were not honest enough to agree to a ‘live’ or an unedited interview with Ryanair, which would have provided Panorama’s viewers with ‘balance and facts’, instead of Panorama’s ‘false claims and fiction’.
“Ryanair will be launching another widely popular Seat Sale on midnight Monday to expose Panorama’s false claims, censorship and now sadly lies. It is a shame that the BBC waste so much licence payers money on investigating why Ryanair is Britain’s favourite airline, when all they need do is take a couple of low fare on time flights like 66 million other consumers will do this year. These clowns even wasted licence payers money flying to Dublin on high fare, frequently delayed, BMI, instead of flying with Britain’s favourite airline Ryanair.”