Deutsche Lufthansa took a swipe at low-cost rival Ryanair Holdings with a full-page newspaper advertisement mocking the Irish carrier over the pilot shortage that’s led to the scrapping of 2,100 flights.
The ad, which ran on page two of German daily Handelsblatt on Friday, depicts a disgruntled looking Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary under the headline “O’Deary!” and invites customers affected by the cancellations to defect to Lufthansa’s own Eurowings discount unit.
Eurowings also took to Facebook and Twitter, asking customers if their booking had been a “Ryanfall,” a play on words relating to the German for “flop.”
Ryanair is no stranger to well-aimed advertising barbs of its own, painting “Bye-bye Lufthansa” on the side of a Boeing Co. 737 when it entered the German market about 15 years ago. Other campaigns have depicted EasyJet Plc founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou with a Pinocchio-length nose during a spat over punctuality, and describing British Airways as “Expensive Ba----ds.”
In recent weeks O’Leary has also attacked Lufthansa over its role in what he says is a state-led German “stitch up” in dividing up the assets of Air Berlin, referring to the insolvent company’s CEO Thomas Winkelmann as a “minion” in thrall to the larger company. Ryanair lacks the market penetration in Germany that it has achieved elsewhere, though it this year pushed into Frankfurt and Munich, Lufthansa two main hubs.
O’Leary apologized to investors for the timetable fiasco at Ryanair’s annual meeting Thursday, vowing to address the failings that led to the crisis. The carrier’s bare-bones model was unable to cope when a change to Irish labor laws required it to squeeze a year’s worth of vacation into nine months at a time when it was already losing cockpit crew to rivals.
The CEO said bookings have been unaffected and reiterated Ryanair’s full-year guidance.
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