Thursday 22 February 2018

The Punt: Pain in the Balearics

Michael O'Leary
Michael O'Leary

Michael O'Leary never struck us as the puritanical type, but Ryanair has tapped into the deep well of Scottish reforming zeal by banning booze on some Caledonian flights.

Travellers flying from Glasgow Prestwick to the holiday island of Ibiza will no longer be able to drink alcohol on board flights.

According to Scotland's 'Daily Record', the Irish airline has banned alcohol, including customers uncorking booze bought pre-flight, from flights between the two destinations. It sounds like a bit of a pain in the Balearics, but in fairness to Ryanair it has fairly solid grounds for the move.

Two years ago a flight from Prestwick to Ibiza was forced to land at Beauvais airport near Paris, because of an outbreak of drunkenness. Last year a homemade video showed apparently intoxicated passengers swearing and singing on another flight.

Three hours without a drink is a small enough price to pay for most people, especially if the alternative is unexpected diversions or delays.

Happily Irish revellers, sorry travellers, are so far immune.

Pester power goes native

Consumers groups in the US are up in arms over YouTube's new Kids app, claiming the child-focused mobile application blurs the lines between advertising and programming.

By filtering out adult content, the idea of YouTube Kids is to make parents' lives easier by making it safer for kids to access online videos.

But, the app blends video programming and advertising in ways that deceives children and parents, claim consumer and child welfare groups in the US, who want federal regulators to investigate.

"The videos provided to children on YouTube Kids intermix commercial and other content in ways that are deceptive and unfair to children and would not be permitted to be shown on broadcast or cable television," according to a letters send to authorities.

It highlights "branded channels" including for fast food chain McDonald's and toymaker Fisher-Price.

Unlike TV, the online channels can mix cartoons about a character, such as smash hits like Princess Elsa, below, with ads for toys based on the character. Critics also cite ostensibly "user-generated videos" that may actually be paid ads, including "unboxing" videos where children gush as they unwrap toys. It's an entire genre, we're told, but can include so-called "native ads" paid for by toymakers.

YouTube rejected the criticism, saying it developed the app with child advocacy groups.

High flyers to boost Crewlink

As Ryanair's passenger numbers continue to rise and new jets are added to its fleet, the airline needs more crew members.

Crewlink, the Irish recruitment company Ryanair partners with to fill cabin crew roles, has recently launched a big hiring drive for staff - almost 1,500 of them.

Crewlink is holding Ryanair recruitment days in Spain this month, starting in Madrid on Friday. While the cabin crew taken on by Crewlink work on Ryanair planes, they're employed by Crewlink - a practice that has caused controversy in the past.

Owned by Frank Whelan and Judy Byrne, the latest set of publicly available accounts for Crewlink show that it made an operating profit of €12,000 in 2013, down from €142,000 a year earlier. Revenue slumped to €50m in 2013 from €65.8m in 2012. Before setting up Crewlink in 2003, Byrne held roles including head of HR at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Crewlink's parent company, Occam Management, is also controlled by Whelan and Byrne.

It made a €537,154 operating profit in 2013, compared to €858,450 in 2012. Whelan and Byrne were paid a total of €440,000 by Occam in 2013, down from €500,000 in 2012.

Irish Independent

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