Paper written by Joseph Zeidler
Ryanair, founded in 1985, is an Irish airline known as the “low cost” airline. The company currently has a fleet size of 298 Boeing 737-800’s. With all these aircrafts, the company employs 8,500 individuals as pilots, flight attendants, and counter workers. In 2004, Google named Ryanair as the most popular airline. As the company grew, people started to select this airline over many others. The current owner of Ryanair is Michael O’Leary, who has been at the helm of the company since 1994. Throughout Mr. O’Leary’s tenure as CEO, he has constantly been criticized by the public for having such an abrasive management style. This company started in 1985, with a staff of 25 people. Then, a year later in 1986, the company serviced two turbo prop BAE748 aircrafts, flying roughly 82,000 passengers. Then, after much success in the first four years, in 1990 the company lost $20 million dollars. Fast forward to 2011, and the company had 75.8 million passengers board their planes over the course of the year and revenue of $4.2 billion. After the company growing exponentially, they have decided to make extremely cheap airfare rates, but the controversy started when they started charging passengers for reasons they should not have.
Ryanair has created many charges that have caused controversy. This company has a revenue of $503 million. Inside that number, over 20% of their revenue has come from sources outside of airline tickets. The reason this company is bringing in more than 20% of their revenue is due to many different rates. Ryanair currently charges $208 for a name change on your boarding pass, a boarding pass fee of $40, excessive luggage fee of $28 per kilo, credit card use fee of 2% of the total amount, a reserved seat fee of $13, a checked musical instrument fee of $83, and if you want a bottle of water on this airlines aircraft that will cost you $3.50.
This company charges many different fees and they are currently causing controversy with customers due to what is going on inside the cabin of the plane. On a Ryanair aircraft they have non-reclining seats, no seat back pockets, their flotation devices are in the overhead compartment, they have “standing room only” flights, and passengers must load their own bags onto the plane. Other ways this company is bringing in such a large profit is due to removing two toilets to get one extra seat on their planes; therefore they only have 1 bathroom on board. To use this bathroom, it will cost you $1.
The stakeholders of this controversy are the customers of this company. The customers are the ones who are affected by all of these absurd charges. If the company decides to keep charging their customers these rates, the customer will continue to be the stakeholder in this controversy. Many customers have written complaints about the company and the fees that they have charged. The employees of Ryanair are also apart of the stakeholders group. Employees are forced to charge these customers, which may be awkward at times, such as charging a customer for being overweight. The female employees of this company must also participate in their yearly calendar photo shoot.
Michael Friedman describes Individualism as a company maximizing their total profits. In this case, Ryanair is using Individualism because they are worrying about anything except for profit. Due to Ryanair trying to maximize profits, the company is acting ethically upon this theory. Ryanair is charging customers absurd charges, such as charges to use the bathroom and for being overweight, and is getting away with this. Rather than focusing on customer satisfaction, this company is only worried about one thing; profit. This company does not worry about all of the bad publicity that they receive from certain websites or from media, they just want to maximize their profit and want to make the most money possible. This company has seen their fair shares of negative feedback but this has yet to affect their profits over the past five years. Therefore, they are only focusing on themselves, rather than their customers. This company has seen an increase in revenue and profit after charging their customers for these charges.
The Utilitarianism theory states that a company should maximize happiness in yourself and others. Happiness or pleasure is the only things of intrinsic value. The reason behind this is that happiness is valuable; there is no difference morally speaking between ones happiness. In this controversy, Utilitarianism is not used. Happiness is a common theme in this theory, but for Ryanair, the happiness level for their customers is very low, due to all of the charges they are inflicted upon. Happiness is something that should go both ways, giving it and receiving it. For Ryanair, they are currently receiving happiness, due to receiving such large profits from these fees that they are inflicting upon the customers. As far as giving happiness, this company is doing nothing to create their customers to be happy, besides one area. This area is low airfare for all of the customers that fly through Ryanair. The customers are not happy with the fees they are paying and this can be seen in customer reviews of this company, and a website such as http://www.ihateryanair.org/. These customer complaints show that they are not happy Ryanair and therefore this company is not compelling with Utilitarianism.
The basic principles of Kantianism consist of four ideas. The first basic principle is to act rationally. This means that one should not act inconsistently in their own actions or consider themselves exempt from rules. The second principle is that one should allow and help people to make rational decisions. The third basic principle is to respect people, their autonomy, and individual needs and differences. The last basic principle of the four is that one should be motivated by good will, and seeks to do what is right because it is right.
For Ryanair, they are simply going against the four basic principles of Kantianism. This company is not acting rationally, because the company, they themselves, feel that what they are doing is correct, but ethically, what they are doing is extremely bad. The second basic principle is also not being used in this company. Ryanair is not allowing their flight attendants and pilots to do what is right, instead they are having them charge customers to use the bathroom and pay for water. The next principle that this company is not practicing is respecting people. This company is demoralizing individuals due to charging them for being overweight and having “standing room only” flights. This company is also not following the fourth basic principle, which is to be motivated by good will and seeking to do what is right. This company is simply only about their revenue and not worrying about what they need to do right.
The last theory that will be covered is the virtue theory. This theory consists of four major characteristics that are covered; courage, honesty, temperance and self-control, and justice and fairness. Ryanair currently does not cooperate with these characteristics due to the items that this company makes their customers pay for. For Courage, this company has the courage to have extremely low airfare rates, but at the same time, they also have the courage to charge individuals for absurd things. Honesty is the one thing that this company has going for them, as far as the virtue theory goes. This company knows that they want to charge extremely low rates and they state the charges that they will charge you clearly on their website. As far as temperance goes, this company does not think they are doing anything wrong and therefore they think that they should not change their way of operating this company. Justice and fairness is another area that this company is not corresponding with these characteristics. Fairness and justice revolves around fair practices. One example of not using fairness and justice is reducing their aircrafts bathrooms from three to one, just to add six seats. This is not fair to customers due to being on a plane for 1-3 hours and only having 1 bathroom for 125+ people. As one can see, the virtue theory does not exist inside this company.
The first thing that this company must do, in order to change their ways, is that they must get on better terms with their customers. Customers are the main reasons as to how far a company will go, in terms of profit, revenue and future/returning customers. The first way to get on better terms would to be to raise the price of the airfare tickets, but then decrease and if possible eliminate the hidden/unnecessary fees. For example, having an overweight fee may not be the best way to go about charging fees to customers. This company has many fees, which may complicate customers, and if they minimize these costs, the amount of passengers will increase significantly.
The next way to get on better terms with the customers would be for Ryanair to treat customers with more respect. This is where the toilet situation comes into play. Adding six more seats and eliminating two bathrooms may keep the prices lower for passengers, but it may not be necessary with all the bad publicity with only having one bathroom but minimizing costs by only $3 a seat. By treating customers more humanely and with respect, this will want their customers to come back to Ryanair and to refer their friends to this company.
The final piece that this company may want to put in place is to listen to their customers. Instead of thinking that what they are doing is right, use the resources available and see where the customers complaints are and react to them. Any company is going to have some sort of feedback about your business and if the company looks into common areas of concern and fixes those areas, this company will be much more ethically appreciated.
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