Michael O'Leary at the Innovation Convention 2011
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OK, good morning ladies and gentleman. It is a great honour to be here this morning. This is the first time i think that I or Ryanair have ever been invited to a conference by the European Union because as most of you know the European Union spends most of its time either suing me, torturing me, criticizing me or condemning me for lowering the cost of air travel all over Europe and making life so really difficult for their favorite airlines which as we all know are high-fare airlines like Air France, British Airways and Lufthansa who must of course be protected at all costs because they are the future of Europe. The future of Europe lies in people being forced to pay eight hundred euros for one hour flights across the continent. The future of Europe lies in people being forced to pay fuel surcharges for the right to travel on Europe's best airlines run by the Germans, the French and the British. Well, sorry we might disagree. Which is why I think a conference on innovation is so important. Because if you look at the mess that Europe is in and you look at the mess that the European economy is in, there's only one way out of it and it's not going to be someones of European politicians, it's certainly not going to be a conference held in Brussels where the last innovative idea came in 1920, I think. Innovation is going to be the way for the European economy to grow to develop to create new jobs and that's the way out of the mess we're in and that's why Ithink it's so important that we have four young people here today. I'm kind of a little bit nervous that we've brought them to Brussels where I'm afraid that their innovative streak go their spark of innovation might be dulled by a long lunch, an afternoon asleep followed by an early finish and then that they'd all become, God help us, politicians or bureaucrats in Brussels and therefore do nothing to add to the to the sum of humankind, so I urge you, as quickly as you possibly can get the hell out of Brussels, go back to your countries and try to stay away from here as much as is humanly possible. Because Brussels... that those of you who know the Star Wars Trilogy... bases the Evil Empire, the Berlaymont is the Death Star where any hint of innovation is left at the door as you walk in to meet with bureaucrats and politicians who you can always tell when they're telling lies because usually their lips will be moving, Anyway, I thought what we do is give you a quick... for those who haven't heard of Ryanair, Europe small, Brussels most beloved airline... we give you a quick very short brief summary on what Ryanair is in and what Ryanair does. Ryanair is the most innovative airline in the world. I accept that's not setting the bar very high given that the airlines around the world have failed to innovate probably since Wilbur and Orville Wright first flew in 1912. And the reason they fail to innovate and the reason why the airline industry is in such a mess is because it's run by politicians and bureaucrats who like nothing more than to pass another regulation when something is working. I remember Ronald Reagan's quote in the US that you know the economic policy of government and bureaucrats is always. if it moves, tax it; if it keeps moving, regulate it; and if it stops moving, subsidize it. So I think that's a policy that's much beloved in Brussels. So what makes Ryanair different. We offer the lowest fares with the lowest seat costs in Europe. Nobody comes close. We guarantee no fuel surcharges. So by Lufthansa and Air France and BAR tell you: oh next year's going to be more expensive, we have to put up fuel surcharges because the price of fuel is rising it's a big... it comes as a mystery to them that actually the airline needs to buy fuel so, oh, we need a fuel surcharge. We guarantee no fuel surcharges. And as a result of that, we're by far the Europe's most popular airline with 75 million passengers. Currently, we offer 1500 routes across 47 bases. I'm going to a new country today to announce our 48th base next year. And we had the best customer service in Europe. Now, our customer service doesn't consist of giving you fine wines and big fat seats for your big fat backside, or giving you frequent-flyer points so that you travel with us again at your employer's expense. Our customer service consists of three things that people really want. A cheap flight, an on-time flight and then we promise not to lose your bags in between. And as a result of that formula which seems very simple yet is incredibly revolutionary within the airline industry we have delivered 27 years of continuous growth and we're now the world's favored airline and we carry more internationally scheduled passengers than any other airline. What makes us different from every other European airline -- our fares. At the moment, our average fare is 50 euros for a 1h15min flight across Europe, twenty years ago that figure would have been about 500 euros and if you look what British Airways, Air France and Lufthansa are charging today, it's about six-seven times Ryanair's price. As a result we continue to grow all over Europe. Much to the upset of the European Commission we continue to succeed whereas the airlines that they'd like to protect and foster as much as they can continue to decline. The IF figures: this year we carry 75 million international passes, Lufthansa 44 million, EasyJet 37 million, Air France 30 million and British Airways that used to be the world's favorite now isn't even the UK's favorite airline anymore. We are! In terms of where we fly, 47 bases across Europe, 160 airports, 27 countries, we have 1500 daily departures, 93 percent of them on-time, we don't have strikes, so the only time your flight would be cancelled is when there's bad weather at an airport or it's not safe to fly. And in Brussels-Charleroi this by the way is an airport to the south of Brussels, it's not very well known here in the European Commission where they all fly to the high cost, frequently delayed Zaventem. What happened to my screen? Oh, my screen is still on. Very interesting. But I was coming out for the conference this week again as I say I'm a Brussels conference virgin. So I never having been to a Brussels conference before, somebody in the Commission very kindly sent me a note saying we'd love to pay for your flights and your hotel and your taxi and we'll send a limo to collect you and everything else. Jesus. Ryanair as you know remarkably is an entirely new... So I said that's fine I'll be arriving in Brussels-Charleroi on the Ryanair flight from Dublin on Monday evening, I'll be travelling into the center of town and if you could find me a hotel, well the Novotel will do fine but you know whatever, wherever the Commission stay. We got an email back last Friday saying, "I'm sorry, the Commission can't pay for a Ryanair flight because there's a ban on low-fare flights within the Commission. To then be told, "We can't get you a taxi from Brussels-Charleroi airport because we only send taxis to Brussels airport. But we can provide you with a hotel in downtown Brussels. So as long as you can find your way or flight to Brussels-Charleroi. What they would have done though, if I flew on my competitor Aer Lingus, the flag carrier into Brussels airport at about ten times the cost the Commission would have been happy to reimburse that airfare at nine times the cost of the Ryanair flight. They'd been happy to send a limo out to Brussels airport where apparently limo drivers in Brussels only know how to get to Zaventem, they never heard of Brussels-Charleroi and they provide me with the hotel accommodation, as well. So again i say to the four entrepreneurs: the first thing you must remember today is to get the hell out of Brussels as quickly as you can or any streak of innovation and intelligence will be beaten out of you by Brussels. How is Ryanair innovative within an airline industry to continuously loses money? Well, we come with a simple thing. One of great strengths of Ryanair is nobody in the airline has ever worked in an airline before. So none of us came to the airline going: well we have to give people free drinks, otherwise they won't fly with us. And we have to give them shitty food that they can't eat otherwise they won't fly with us. Why don't we just scrap the free bloody drinks, get rid of the awful meals and just give people lower fares and surprise surprise it works. And what we've discovered which is a very revolutionary concept which I urge on the four young innovators is that actually lower prices beats higher prices every time. Unless you work in the Commission where, of course, by law you can only buy higher prices because let's face it European taxpayer is going to pay for it anyway. Getting rid of travel agents who it is useless intermediary who charges cost typically about twenty percent your ticket price also works if you pass all of those savings to the consumer by encouraging the consumer to book on the internet. And not enough to get you to book on the internet we now have you checking in on the internet as well. Bigger aircraft enables us to offer more seats, enables us to offer lower prices. You get a kind of a recurring theme here: lower prices, lower prices, lower prices. Whereas the Commission would prefer higher prices, bigger subsidies and more delays. Affordable charges change behavior. We're famous in the industry at the moment for being the first airlines that's introduced a charge for checked-in bags. Drives people nuts. Because everybody knows in the airline bases that when Moses came down from the mountain top the first commandment was thou shalt not commit murder and the second commandment was thou shalt have an inalienable right to check in a bag on an airline free of charge. Well, we don't think so. And the reason why 'cos this is the most useless service ever invented by mankind. We take your bags from you on departure so that we can carry them here and give hem back to you on arrival. Unless of course you flew British Airways in which case we lose fifty percent of them in between. We take a much better way of doing this. Why don't you take your bag with you yourself and then if you lose it, you go find it. It also means that when you go to the airport you will not waste one hour of your life standing there like a lemming in a check-in queue. "Where are you going?" "Here's my..." This is stupid! On one-hour flights around Europe you don't need to check in two bags. Ryanair has increased the free carry-on allowance from seven to ten kilos, bring a carry-on bag and instead of coming to the airport two hours before departure, come thirty minutes before departure, go straight through security, cause you've already checked in on the website, go straight down to the gate, get on the plane and go. And that's what people want. So what we do is we charge for checked-in bags not because we want your money, we just don't want your bloody checked-in bag. And funnily enough, once you get into the discipline although I accept that my wife isn't capable to get into the discipline of travelling with one bag, she needs three. Once you get into the discipline of travelling with one carry-on bag you'll never go back. We guarantee no fuel surcharges. If oil goes to two hundred dollars a barrel, there will not be a fuel surcharge in Ryanair. Ryanair will be the only airlines still flying in Europe but I guarantee you there'll be no fuel surcharges. Advertising -- one of the great innovations in Ryanair. We have in twenty-five years never used an advertising agency, we don't use PR agencies 'cause we can't afford them but what we found is that funny advertising beats boring advertising every single time. And PR is miles cheaper than advertising and the great thing if you have funny ads and good PR you can have fun and make yourself well known to the world. The one on left hand side is the famous one. When we were first launching in Brussels-Charleroi in about 1997, nobody heard of Brussels-Charleroi in Belgium, nobody heard of Ryanair in Belgium. So we spent, we sent loads of people over here visit all travel agencies. How do we get Ryanair known? Nobody knew us. On the day of the first flight we ran this ad which is the mannequin piss, those of you who know how your Belgian culture, the belgian national symbol is you know is a very small male genitalia which says all you need to know about Belgium. I'd try to tell you what the Irish national symbol is but anyway so we ran this ad on the first day, "Pissed off at Sabena's high fares? Low fares have come to Belgium." Sabena went berzerk. They tried to sue us at the High Court in Brussels over demeaning the Belgian national symbol, we issued a press release saying we didn't demean the Belgian national symbol, it is a small penis that is the Belgian national symbol. So they took us to the High Court, we then had to go to the High Court in Belgium for demeaning the mannequin piss and everything else, we announced we'll give away free tickets to everybody who showed up to support the Ryanair case, there was a riot in the main square in Belgium as we were throwing out free tickets. And our booking which have flatlined for three months prior to the takeoff suddenly went woosh. Cause everybody got on the website, "What's this Ryanair-Charleroi? Oooh. Nine euros to Spain, Italy, Germany -- book'em!" So our bookings went like that, Sabena's bookings went like that and the history of air travel to and from Belgium has changed totally because sadly in Belgium you're stuck with SN Brussels or Lufthansa's Belgian subsidiary and Zaventem whereas at Charleroi we continue to grow and continue to grow rapidly next summer we'll offer sixty routes from brussels Charleroi and it's very interesting, the European Commission itself produced a table two weeks ago. The twenty five fastest growing airports in the world last year, there was only one European airport. In the world's twenty-five fastest growing airports. In Europe, the home of innovation, the home of radical transformation, the home of protecting high fare flag carrier airlines. What was the only European airport in the world's top twenty-five fastest growing airports last year? Brussels South Charleroi. Where the Commission won't pay for flights and the Commission's limos can't find it. One last word in terms of having fun, this again is one of more innovative things we've done, we produce in in-flight charity calendar every year, this is the 2012 production. There is a vicious rumor that says that Ryanair pay for models to appear in this charity calender. I assure you that's entirely untrue, these are all Ryanair cabin crew based at our twenty-seven bases all over Europe. Over four hundred of the girls volunteer, funny we had five men volunteer as well but they didn't make it through the final selection process. We sent them down to Lanzarote to do the photography, we produce ten thousand copies, there is only two-and-a-half thousand copies left, by the way. It's for sale onboard an online. We raised about one hundred thousand euros each year for producing the calendar and this year all of the proceeds go to the DEBRA Ireland charity foundation which provides holidays for children suffering from the EB skin condition. I do have to... To make the question-answer session more interesting later on, by the way, I have a couple prizes for you. We have three three pairs of three free ryanair flights from Brussels South Charleroi airport so if you work for the Commission, you probably be banned from taking them but we'll go to give away three free flights: Brussels-Madrid, Brussels-Rome, and Brussels-Dublin. I have two copies of the charity calendar which you can put down into your bag and not be seen leaving the building with later on. So to summarize, today we have a seat sale 9.99 one-way. This is available on forty of our routes from Brussels South Charleroi so if you can find a taxi driver or a limo driver in Belgium who knows how to get to Brussels South Charleroi you can travel in January at this fare on forty five routes all over Europe and this ladies and gentlemen is what happens when you get innovation in the airline industry, you can fly anywhere in europe for ten quid from Brussels Charleroi in November. If without ryanair, without airline deregulation that fare would be something close to 900 euros, not the 9.99 charged by Ryanair. I think that that's the end of my innovation class and we're now going to hand it over to the people who really matter which is the four young innovators we have here who again I urge, enjoy the presentation today, don't be nervous and remember get the hell out of Brussels as fast as you possibly can and back to business. Thank you ladies and gentlemen. Thank you very much, Michael, I guess you want to get them fast out of Brussels on Ryanair flights. Thanks also for the flattery of the Commission, I much appreciate, I tend to remember that it was the Commission who proposed to deregulate the airline business in the first place as part of the single market program but maybe I'm wrong on that count because... -No, but it was thirty years ago we haven't had any innovation since. Twenty years ago but I guess that Ryanair might not have existed if the Commission hadn't taken that first step. euroseptik.cz :: svobodni.cz :: reformy.cz
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