Ryanair faces safety challenge

By Quentin Langley

This blog is a cynic about the IhateRyanair blog. On the whole it reinforces Ryanair's key message of being stingy and therefore cheap. Every story about Ryanair firing staff for stealing electricity by charging mobile phones at work certainly makes people think that the airline is mean, but a little voice at the back of minds always adds "no wonder they are so cheap". This is probably why Michael O'Leary gave the blog a mass of free publicity by taking it to court.

But challenges on safety issues are more serious. If people believe Ryanair flights are less safe than other airlines it might hit sales. It probably shouldn't. If Ryanair is the most dangerous airline in Europe (and I know of no evidence that it is) then it is stil much safer than a train journey, let alone travelling by car.

Channel Four's Dispatches programme has criticised the airline and the left-wing blog Sum of Us has taken up the issue. IhateRyanair is also running with the safety issue, as opposed to its normal generic hatred. 

If the safety issue is going to take off, it is going to take more than a few posts on hate sites. There is going to have to be actual evidence of risks – and the risks will probably have to be measurably higher than with other airlines. Even then boycotting Ryanair would still be irrational for anyone who drives a car or travels by train. But unlike blogs about Ryanair mistreating its staff or serving poor food – let alone charging for the toilet, a rumour Ryanair started itself – the safety issue could cut both ways for the airline, and discourage as many customers as it recruits. 

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