Thursday, March 30, 2006

The cost of cost management

Just back from a short-break in Biarritz with the missus, which was extended involuntarily by one day because of the Tuesday 28th March general strike, in protest against the French Government’s new youth employment policy. This caused all Ryanair flights to and from France be cancelled, through no fault of the airline, leaving us stranded.

Ryanair’s drive for efficiency and cost control means that their operational objective is to fly all their planes every day on scheduled services, which results in a lack of any spare capacity when a problem arises. Coupled to this, they generally serve airports where there are no other carriers flying to foreign destinations and their flights average 80%-90% occupancy, even in the off-season.

The net result is that, when they have to cancel a flight, there is usually no other carrier serving that airport who can be used to substitute for the cancelled flight. Then, because all their flights are at least 80% full already, it will take a minimum of the 4 subsequent Ryanair flights to clear the backlog.

At airports where they have only one flight daily, or perhaps only one flight every second day, you can see how a stranded passenger might be stuck for several days. Ryanair only fly to Biarritz every second day, so having cancelled the Tuesday flight, their next flight was Thursday and our chances of getting on that were slim enough.

Luckily, we managed to book flights with Aer Lingus from Bordeaux for Wednesday afternoon, which involved getting the TGV from Biarritz to Bordeaux. The train journey took 2 hours and the TGV hit a maximum speed of about 60 mph - what a con-job!

All told, I reckon the delay resulted in extra costs of about €500 - between accommodation, air-fares, meals and train fares. It’s coming out of the wife’s house-keeping unless I can get it back off the travel insurance.

1 comment:

Poll said...

Hello !

Happy to meet you.

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