Ryanair’s rep­u­ta­tion takes a dive: Can­til­lon,

The Irish Times - - Home News -

Even for a group with as com­bat­ive a cor­po­rate cul­ture as Ryanair, it has been a bruis­ing 10 days. It seems a long time ago that proxy ad­vi­sory groups ISS and Pirc were urg­ing share­hold­ers to vote down di­rec­tors stand­ing for re-elec­tion in a dis­pute over ex­ec­u­tive pay – par­tic­u­larly the lack of dis­clo­sure in how ex­ec­u­tive bonuses are de­ter­mined.

Just seven days later Ryanair on Thurs­day found it­self on the de­fen­sive over a rul­ing by the Euro­pean Court of Jus­tice on whether a num­ber of for­mer staff could take le­gal ac­tion against it in Bel­gium, where they worked, or only in Ire­land as stated in their em­ploy­ment con­tracts.

With­out rul­ing defini­tively the court dis­missed the Ryanair con­tract pro­vi­sion as un­en­force­able, and found that the fact that the for­mer staff had been based ha­bit­u­ally at Charleroi air­port was a sig­nif­i­cant in­di­ca­tor sup­port­ing a claim that lo­cal courts had ju­ris­dic­tion.

The air­line spun the out­come as a vic­tory: the mar­kets ruled oth­er­wise.

But any vic­tory it sought was ren­dered moot yes­ter­day as Ryanair started can­celling flights whole­sale with­out ex­pla­na­tion.

Even­tu­ally, un­der pres­sure, the air­line dis­closed it in­tends to can­cel be­tween 40 and 50 flights a day for the next six weeks as staff catch up on hol­i­day leave. Even then it gave de­tails only of can­cel­la­tions over this week­end, keep­ing longer-term booked pas­sen­gers in the dark.

In the cir­cum­stances the emer­gency land­ing by a Ryanair air­craft af­ter it lost a nose­wheel on take­off at Stansted, also yes­ter­day, passed al­most un­no­ticed.

It’s rare that the air­line takes as many unan­swered body blows. The events of the past few days have knocked over 5 per cent off the com­pany’s share price.

Next week share­hold­ers will get a chance to have their say di­rectly at the com­pany’s an­nual gen­eral meet­ing. The rep­u­ta­tional dam­age of the de­ci­sion to ar­bi­trar­ily can­cel thou­sands of flights is clearly a con­cern.

It’s set to be an­other tur­bu­lent week.

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