Ryanair's pilotless planes

Travelling on Ryanair, renowned for its appalling customer service, is about to get worse. It plans to get rid of two pilots and only use one. Let the computer do the rest and to hell with the passengers.

Ryanair chief executive officer Michael O'Leary floats that idea in this interview with Bloomberg."Why does every plane have two pilots? Really, you only need one pilot. Let's take out the second pilot. Let the bloody computer fly it." In other words, he sees two pilots as a luxury. In case of emergency where the pilot has a heart attack, just call a flight attendant who has been trained to land.

He also proffers the ideas of selling standing room passage and installing pay toilets where passengers would be paying a "pee fee"

BusinessWeek calls O'Leary the "duke of discomfort". "One of the great MBA-speak ideas is that the customer is always right," he told the magazine. "The customer is usually wrong. The only time you hear from a customer is when they're usually complaining because they want to break our rules. Why can't I get a refund for my non-refundable ticket? Bugger off."

With airlines struggling to make profits in the wake of the global financial crisis, it's a question of whether O'Leary's business model will be taken up by the rest of the industry.


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