By stephendavis on Jan 05, 2007
I have only flown on Ryanair a couple of times to Ancona, a holiday destination in northern Italy which is not served by any other carrier out of the UK. On both occasions, being the height if the summer peak season, I had to pay scheduled airline fares and despite it being a no frills budget airline. It would have been slightly cheaper to fly with BA to Bologna further to the north. As I recall, both times the flights were delayed.
Despite the media profile of its exuberant founder usually playing the underdog card (sound familiar?) Ryanair is under attack from many different groups - today by a government minister over the airline's apparent disregard for environmental issues. Not least of its critics are many of its own passengers who have found it virtually impossible to get in touch with the company to complain.
One such disgruntled passenger for whom Ryanair lost his luggage leaving him stranded at Ancona airport in only the clothes he was wearing and then incredibly charged him £160 to fly back home, decided two years ago to set-up a critical web site at the URL www.ryanair.org.uk. Numerous other passengers then posted their own complaints about the airline on the site.
Last year, Ryanair took the case on trademark infringement grounds to Nominet, the organisation that resolves domain name disputes. Ryanair won the case, but the site's owner, undaunted by the ruling set-up a new website at www.ryanaircampaign.org This time the legal team from Ryanair took its case to the World Intellectual Property Organisation, a committee of the United Nations and lost its case.
As a result, like the McDonald's 'McLibel' trail, Ryanair has generated considerable publicity for the site and according to its owner quoted in Private Eye, he would have allowed things to die down had he not been pursued by Ryanair's legal team.
This is certainly not the first time that a company has tried to close down a web site. On the Internet, so-called cyber squatters have deliberately registered URLs with addresses close to established names in the hope that the brand owner will offer to purchase the URL to avoid confusion among their own users or protect their reputation.
Unlike any other communication media before it, the Web and more recently blogs have created a feedback or response mechanism for customers, that often through word-of-mouth, can rapidly build an audience to rival a company's own web site.