Ryanair prize limited for "administration" purposes

Friday 01 March 2002 16.59

The sales and marketing director of Ryanair has told the High Court that he tried to limit a prize awarded to a Dublin woman in the interests of "proper administration."

Jane O'Keeffe, from Leopardstown Heights, claims the airline reneged on a promise it made to her of her free travel for life when she became the airline's one millionth customer in 1988.

Ryanair sales and marketing director, Tim Jeans, said he first became aware that there was a problem with Jane O'Keeffe's prize in October 1997. She wanted to book a flight to Scotland.

But Mr Jeans said there were only four or five of the most expensive seats left on that route. He said these seats would never be made available to people who had won prizes or had any other form of concession.

The court heard that he refused to allow Ms O'Keeffe free tickets to Scotland and told her that from then on she would be limited to one flight a year.

Mr Jeans told the High Court that he had no documentation at that time to show that Jane O'Keeffe was entitled to unlimited free travel on Ryanair's flights. He denied that her prize did not suit the company. He said he had wanted to put some "proper administration" in place around it.

Mr Jeans said this view was endorsed by Chief Executive, Michael O'Leary. He agreed with Mr Justice Kelly that there was no evidence of a limit on Ms O'Keeffe's entitlement before he tried to impose one nine years later.

Earlier, Ryanair attempted to settle the case by offering Ms O'Keeffe and a companion free travel on its flights, subject to availability.

However, Ms O'Keeffe told the court she did not trust the company any more. She said she would feel awkward about ringing up looking for flights when everyone knew she had had to go to court.

The company also offered Ms O'Keeffe €4,000 in compensation this morning. She is seeking more than €450,000.