Ryanair loses it

Ryanair loses it

It’s not often that one can spot the exact moment when a company blows it, but this week we saw it with Ryanair, the Irish budget airline that has hitherto been the apple of every traveller’s eye. It’s just lost a case brought against it by a disabled traveller who was charged an extortionate fee for the use of a wheelchair. According to the BBC report, “Bob Ross said it was discriminatory to be charged an 18 fee because he was unable to walk to the check-in desk. [Mr Ross has had cerebral palsy since birth and later developed arthritis, so walking is very painful.]

Judge Crawford Lindsay QC ruled Ryanair acted unlawfully by not ensuring a free wheelchair was provided.

The community worker was awarded 1,336 in compensation.”

And guess what Ryanair does next? Claps a 50p levy on every passenger from now on. This will yield about 12 million a year — enough to buy 24,000 wheelchairs by my calculations. It’s a spiteful, vindictive response which will damage the passenger-friendly image of the airline and cost far more in public relations terms than any money it will bring in. Ryanair’s bosses are clearly getting rattled — they had to issue their first profits warning this week after years of spectacular growth. And shares dropped 30% in a week.