Will Ryanair’s leopard-changing-its-spots act help it to fight Easyjet in the European short-haul market?

So this is Ryanair’s brave new world

Ryanair is running new advertising in the UK flagging its new, cuddly brand personality.

Unknown-2This one has a visual of a pretty, smiling female staff member in Ryanair uniform, standing in front of a check-in area and her badge says her name is Elaine. The headline underneath is “We’re Changing”. What follows are five benefit points:

*Lower fares

*New, better website

*Free 2nd cabin bag

*Allocated seating

*120 Stansted routes

Well good for them to be sticking their neck out and owning up to changing the way they operate. It should be admired because it accepts they have been getting a lot wrong in recent times.

Obviously, one advertising burst isn’t going to change their brand image overnight but it’s a great start as they are publically committing to changing their ways and there is no turning back. No more O’Leary and his old ways, they have smelt the coffee and realised the lovely Caroline McCall has stolen a march on Ryanair with her influence on Stelios and easyJet. Noticeably Stelios has gone quiet since EasyJet forked out stonking dividends to shareholders, Stelios and family being significant beneficiaries. Although he’s still moaning about her £6.4m package this year (well, it is quite a lot).

On a scale of ‘I hate them’ to ‘I love them’ Ryanair has been getting closer to the former at the same time easyJet has been moving towards the latter. The clear blue sky between the two carriers has been getting bigger and bigger with the financial consequences hitting Ryanair and rewarding easyJet.

Another change Ryanair has announced is the move to proper airports rather than some outpost pretending to be nearby the claimed destination. This is another significant about-turn, contrary to Mr O’Leary’s historic strategy.

It will be fascinating to watch how all this unfolds as both airlines plus BA fight for share of the short haul traffic to and from mainland Europe; importantly, at a profit.

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