Scene: Executives from a low-cost airline meet advisers to finalise a press release about sudden flight cancellations.

Exec 1: It’s important that we put this in context — it’s just 40-50 a day.

Exec 2: People affected?

Exec 1: Er no, flights. But that’s out of 2,500, so it’s still only . . . 

Exec 2: . . . around 30,000 people! Shouldn’t we be warning them?

Exec 1: We’ve sent out some emails. And the flights are listed on our website. Some of them. Somewhere.

Exec 2: Can’t we give more notice?

Exec 1: Nah, best to get it over with in just a few weeks. Stress it’s short term. That way, we don’t lose Christmas revenues.

Exec 2: What reason do we give?

Exec 1: The usual, you know: weather, air traffic control — and pilots insisting on taking their holiday entitlement.

Exec 2: Won’t that make it seem like we’ve been cutting it far too fine on staffing levels?

Exec 1: Just sell the upside: fewer flights, fewer delays! Read it back, then.

Exec 2: “We’re cancelling less than 2 per cent of flights over the next six weeks to improve punctuality.”

Exec 1: Perfect!

Lombard is not suggesting that this was Ryanair’s thought process, but it would explain an awful lot . . . 


Today’s other Lombard notes:
BAE’s real Typhoon test will be navigating Gulf diplomacy
Xeros needs to dry up


matthew.vincent@ft.com

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