Low-cost airline Easyjet ‘denigrated’ rival Ryanair by suggesting the carrier did not fly passengers to the destinations they had booked, the UK's advertising watchdog has ruled.
Easyjet misleadingly implied that Ryanair customers would end up in the wrong city by listing airports that were often some distance from their destination, the Advertising Standards Authority ruled.
A train poster for Easyjet read: ‘Who loves flying you to the place you actually booked?’. A box underneath headed ‘Ryanair’ listed: ‘Barcelona = Girona, Paris = Beauvais, Milan = Bergamo, Venice = Treviso'. More text in a heart under the heading ‘easyJet’ read: ‘Barcelona = Barcelona, Paris = Paris, Milan = Milan, Venice = Venice.’
Ryanair complained that the ad was ‘denigratory’ by implying it delivered customers to the wrong destination.
It pointed out that Beauvais, Bergamo and Treviso had been officially designated as airports for their corresponding cities by the International Air Transport Association.
Ryanair advertised Girona as ‘Girona (Barcelona)’ to make clear that it was a destination in its own right and not a designated airport.
Defending the ad, Easyjet said it did not dispute IATA designations but believed that customers are more interested in the proximity of airports to their destination cities.
Easyjet said it was ‘trying to make the point that it flies to primary airports and Ryanair, in many cases, to secondary airports which are often significantly further away from the city which they serve’.
Upholding the complaint, the ASA said it was concerned that customers could be led to believe they would be unwittingly flown to a more remote airport or even a different destination.
The authority said: ‘We considered the challenging tone of the headline ‘Who loves flying you to the place you actually booked?’ combined with the implication that Ryanair misled customers and flew them to airports different to the ones to which they had booked was denigratory.’
It ruled the ad must not appear again in its current form.
Easyjet's UK general manager Paul Simmons said: ‘It is a well-known fact that easyJet flies to major airports whereas Ryanair serves out-of-town airfields which can be a two-hour bus ride away from your destination.
‘While we are disappointed by the ruling, which is based on a technicality, we respect the ASA's decision and will not repeat the advert in the same form.’