This is a part of a series of questions I put to Stephen McNamara, who was at the time Ryanair's Head of Communications. See more Questions to Ryanair
My question to Ryanair in full:
Do you feel that by labelling Girona and Reus airports as 'Girona (Barcelona)' and 'Reus (Barcelona)' you are providing your passengers with the clearest information possible? Can you be confident you are not in any way misleading consumers into believing that they are flying to Barcelona when in fact they are not?
Note Since I asked Mr McNamara this question, Ryanair have announced they are to start flying to Barcelona. If I were to ask this question today, I would ask "Why do you describe two airports as 'Barcelona' airports when they are 100km away"?
Answer: Stephen McNamara, Ryanair's Head of Communications, was kind enough to respond to my question:
Ryanair provides detailed information on all our destinations on our website and these airports continue to bring millions of high spending passengers to the Barcelona region every year, with more than 1.6 million passengers (many of them repeat visitors) travelling through these airports in the first quarter of the year. Traffic at Barcelona International Airport is down 17.5% since the start of the year while Ryanair’s traffic to Reus and Girona is up by 2% in the same period as more Barcelona bound passengers opt for the low cost choice Ryanair provides them to the Barcelona region.
Mr McNamara's response does not justify naming the flights as 'Barcelona' flights. If anything, the growing numbers of people flying to these airports are all the more reason to accurately name the airports on the Ryanair flight, as more passengers means more people likely to make the same mistake!
Ryanair does indeed provide such information on all their destinations, if you think to check their destinations page first - however, I think most consumers, who are trusting airlines with their lives, will also trust the company will take them to where they are say they are taking them to. Ryanair say they take their passengers to Barcelona - they do not. It is surprising that Mr McNamara asks his passengers to not take what his airline says on the front page at face value.
Furthermore, this 'detailed information' on Girona on their website omits the key information necessary - how far Girona airport is from Barcelona! Isn't the 102km distance between Girona airport and Barcelona the kind of information one would expect to see on such a page? If it isn't being deliberately being left out, whoever wrote the page should be fired for omitting such key information.
Amusingly, If you are trying to claim money from Ryanair's Price Guarantee, Girona suddenly no longer counts as a Barcelona airport. So is it, or isn't it, Ryanair?
It is worth noting that of all the airlines who fly to Girona airport (the others being Transavia, Thomson and Thomas Cook), Ryanair is the only one to list the airport as 'Girona (Barcelona)' - the others call it Girona or Gerona (the Spanish name for the city).
Read the next question, on Ryanair's Baggage Allowance.