Ryanair is legally allowed to call itself ‘Europe’s No.1 airline’ despite complaints about widespread cancellations last year.
TV and radio ads in September and October included voice-overs saying ‘Discover why more and more people are choosing Europe’s number one airline,’ and ‘Discover why we’re Europe’s number one airline’.
A poster ad, seen on the London Underground on October 2, also featured the headline claim: ‘Europe’s No.1 Airline.’
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received 13 complaints from peopel who claimed the ads were misleading in light of the thousands of flights Ryanair cancelled last year.
The airline had cancelled the flights after errors were made in how their pilots were rostered for work.
Ryanair said the ‘number one’ claim was a statement of fact, however, supported by a third-party statistical report – and therefore it wasn’t misleading.
Their claim, the airline said, was based on the most recent International Air Transpor Association (IATA) World Air Transport Statistics 2017 report for air travel in 2016, which found Ryanair was the world’s largest airline for international flights and Europe’s largest airline for international and domestic flights combined.
Ryanair said their recent cancellation of flights, which affected fewer than 0.5% of their 129million customers last year, did not materially alter this fact.
The ASA agreed, saying that consumers were likely to understand the ‘number one’ claim to mean that Ryanair had carried more passengers than any other European airline over a reasonable time before the ads were produced.
‘While we acknowledged some of the complainants’ views of Ryanair was that it was not their personal number one airline due to the recent flight cancellations, we considered they would nevertheless still interpret the claim to be an objective statement about hte number of passengers who had travelled on Ryanair flights compared to all other European airlines,’ the ASA said in a statement.
‘Because the most recent available figures showed Ryanair had carried more pasesngers than any other European airline, we concluded that the claim “Europe’s No.1 Airline” was unlikely to mislead customers.’