Irish budget carrier Ryanair has been told by the United Kingdom that its latest ad campaign must end and causes consumer confusion.
Ryanair claims to be “Europe’s low CO2 emissions airline”. Its TV and radio ads cite the carrier’s “low CO2 emissions” while its print ad claims “Ryanair has the lowest carbon emissions of any major airline”. To prove this point, Ryanair compares its CO2 emissions (per passenger, per kilometer) to four other European carriers.
But the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the UK agency that monitors ads for misleading consumers, found that Ryanair’s claim of having lower CO2 emissions than “any major airline” was misleading because Ryanair did not actually make a market-wide comparison.
Pushing back almost immediately from criticism, Ryanair claims “low CO2 emissions” simply meant below average. It maintains that its ads were not misleading:
For this environmental campaign, Ryanair provided the appropriate regulatory and approval bodies with all the information requested – including data from independent organizations such as Eurocontrol and Brighter Planet.
These bodies then approved Ryanair’s campaign – based not only on their standard regulatory rules but also on external recommendations from environmental experts.
Ryanair is the greenest/cleanest airline in Europe.
This is down to two simple facts: the average age of our fleet (only 6.5 years) and our capability to operate with the highest load factors (97 per cent).
Those are reasonable arguments, though the ASA also noted that Ryanair scored at the bottom in terms of absolute CO2 emission. Ryanair’s rebuttal was that its per-passenger emissions were lowest and that is the only figure that matters.
Looking at the stats, it does seem that Ryanair pollutes less than others. But the idea that Ryanair is somehow “green” or good for air quality is just laughably false. It’s an airline. It pollutes. A lot. As airlines try to virtue signal their concern for their environment, consumers should remember that Ryanair became the first non-coal company to join Europe’s top 10 carbon emitters last year…