The CEO of Ryanair, Eddie Wilson (Dublin, 58 years old), retains a certain sarcastic tone of his predecessor Michael O’Leary and shows his chest for having completely retaken his 620 routes in Spain despite the havoc that the pandemic causes in tourism . The chief executive of the Irish airline inaugurated this Thursday the expansion of its maintenance hangar in Seville for its planned European fleet of 600 aircraft, to which 250 new employees will be incorporated after investing 16 million.
Ask. Ryanair has announced several times the increase in ticket prices, but also the decrease. What is the outlook now?
Answer. The pandemic negatively affects the demand for tickets and that means that fares fall to encourage people to travel. But in the long run, next summer there will be fewer planes flying in Europe because airlines will downsize, some will go bankrupt and prices will go up, also because people will not fly to far away destinations like Vietnam or Sri Lanka, but rather their vacations. they will be in Europe. Today Ryanair has returned to 100% of its activity, the same as in the winter of 2019, while most of our competitors are at 50% or 60%, and they have planes on the ground and without maintenance. You know what happens if you leave your car idle, the tires go flat …
P. Traditional airlines have copied their strategy of charging passengers for extras such as seats or suitcases. Could this affect your leadership?
R. Imitation is the best form of flattery. Our average fare, including Ebay, is 37 euros for the 150 million passengers we transport, some pay 300 and others nine euros. Our competitors have a problem with that and if they add extras, they will increase the distance with us even more. It took 30 years to maintain that leadership with a lot of hard work and minimizing costs.
We’ve democratized flying for people with modest incomes who can now do things they couldn’t before. Spanish students have been able to go and learn English in the UK and Ireland when 20 years ago only one social class could afford it.
Know in depth all the sides of the coin.
P. Different courts and even the EU Court of Justice have condemned Ryanair for charging for your carry-on luggage. Was this policy a mistake?
R. Anyone can bring a bag of small dimensions and there is a reason: we fill the planes 95 and 100%, there is not enough space for everyone’s bags on the plane, so you have to restrict it, it is impossible to have 185 people with suitcases to bring them to the cabin. Only the one who pays can upload it, but the other bags have to go under the seat in front of you, it is a matter of security.
P. So it is not a mistake.
R. If everyone had a suitcase there would be no space. We tell passengers that they can bring a bag that fits under the seat in front of you, it’s simple. There is a maximum to put in the cabin.
P. But the judges often disagree.
R. The magistrates do not fly airplanes. It is not much different from when you buy a pizza: some like margarita, some pepperoni, some with chili and when you go to a hotel, if you want a superior room or with windows, everyone can have one suite If they want.
P. The format of the Ryanair website and its rules of use are constantly changing. Is it a strategy to mislead the user?
R. No, we try to optimize the web, we look for the things that work and the things that don’t. I have 200 people in Madrid in an information systems laboratory, another 250 in Poland and 200 in Dublin to optimize the web and the application and make things easier for our 150 million passengers. So that they know instantly if their flight has been canceled and that in five days they will have their money returned. The competition doesn’t do that, I assure you.
P. How have the latest waves of coronavirus affected your company’s recovery in Europe? Do you keep the prospect of reaching 200 million passengers?
R. It will be 225 million. Every year it will be easier, we have recovered 100% of our flights and today alone we will fly 2,200 routes.
P. What does the expansion of the aircraft maintenance center that you inaugurate in Seville mean?
R. Given that we have acquired 210 new aircraft and will reach 600, their overhaul is annual and with this center we make sure that we review them, not a third party. The less time they are on the ground, the more time they spend in the air and the more productive they are. We already have facilities in Scotland, Lithuania and Italy and we needed to expand our capacity. In Seville you already have the professionals of the aeronautical industry installed and we will create 500 jobs, it is fabulous.