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28 December 2011 | Adam Leach
Low-cost, no-thrills carrier Ryanair has beaten competitor easyJet to the dubious honour of being what travel buyers most love to hate.
A survey of 252 business travel purchasers, published this month by the Business Travel Show, reported that 57 per cent would most like to erase Ryanair while a fifth would like to see easyJet eradicated.
In a further sign that Ryanair’s popularity is unlikely to improve in the near future, it took two out of the top five spots in the ‘villains of 2011’ category. The airline was first in the category, chosen by 42 per cent of buyers. While its controversial chief executive, Michael O'Leary, who once said of giving passengers free ice “if we could find a way of targeting a price on it, we would,” came in fourth with 12 per cent.
David Chapple, event director at the Business Travel Show, said: “Buyers are certainly passionate in their feelings towards Ryanair. With O’Leary’s no-nonsense, no-apology attitude, this result is unsurprising.”
The survey also revealed that one travel buyers hero is another’s villain. EasyJet, which saw its business travel customers increase by one million in the second half of 2011, was third in both categories, while British Airway’s emerged as the number one hero (33 per cent) but also the number two villain (14 per cent).
Commenting on the split-view buyers hold on the airline, Chapple, said: “British Airway’s positioning is interesting, who would have thought they’d have such a Marmite effect on buyers? It clearly reflects how one experience, good or bad, can really colour a brand’s value in the eyes of buyers.”
Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, who has been touting a £50 billion plan to build a new airport in the middle of the Thames Estuary, was seen as a hero by 17 per cent of buyers.