Tag Archives: business

The Glasgow Reporter chats with Michael O’Leary



The CEO of Ryanair, Michael O’Leary, was in Edinburgh this morning to speak at the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce breakfast but of course he was keen as always to take up the opportunity of speaking to the press, particularly in light of the announcement by Little Red yesterday that they are pulling out of their Edinburgh to London routes. (“Ah yes – No more virgins in Scotland!”) He was also happy to talk about the recent move by Ryanair to Glasgow Airport and the ongoing use of Prestwick Airport.

Listen here:

O’Leary confirmed they are stepping into the breach for Little Red customers: “We spoke to Edinburgh Airport last night and we have committed to taking our flight frequency up from three flights a day this winter to five flights a day next winter making up all of the capacity that is being lost with the departure of Little Red.”

Even though the airline boss agreed that the flights are not on exactly the same route (Virgin Atlantic fly to Heathrow till 2015) he explained that it is important to maintain the capacity of running flights between the two capitals thus keeping prices low. “The problem for Little Red was that they were not able to persuade people to fly to Heathrow at their prices. We will bring in more seats at significantly lower prices.”

At a fare of £19.99 one way the airline claims to make only £6 as there is £13 of Air Passenger Duty, but the important thing from O’Leary’s point of view is to grow the market here in Scotland. “I think Scotland is going to grow strongly on the back of things like the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup.

“I think we will still grow strongly in Scotland even though you did not get independence last month. It makes little difference to our business.”

There was a good two way exchange with the businesss leaders at the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce business breakfast where he had been speaking, and he admitted that not all of them were complimentary to his business model, but one senses that he was ready for the naysayers. He has had something of an epiphany in recent months and both he and the business itself are on a bit of a charm offensive. Mr O’Leary told us at our last meeting that he is taking lessons in being nice to people and today he admitted that had he known how easy life would be just by being nicer to others he might have started before now.

He is dismissive of the effect of the independence question but clearly is on top of the political situation here: “One of the things the Westminster government are going to have to do is demonstrate in the next six months more and more devolution in Scotland. I think one of the things they will devolve is Air Passenger Duty (APD) or control over it. And I would hope that the Scottish Government will then keep its word and abolish the taxes. It will have a dramatic impact on growth here in Scotland, certainly in Prestwick. It is the one thing that hinders the development of traffic in Prestwick where the customer base is very price sensitive. Our two biggest routes there five years ago were from Belfast and London both of which suffered badly when APD was introduced.  We would restore both of those routes at Prestwick if APD was scrapped.

“We are certainly not turning our backs on smaller airports. If you look around Europe we are operating at two or three airports in each city. For instance in London we serve Stansted, Gatwick and Luton. In Brussels we serve Charleroi and Zavantem. I think that in Glasgow we can easily serve two airports.

O’Leary explains that the introduction of routes out of Glasgow International to Dublin has allowed them to increase the number of flights to three from the one flight out of Prestwick which was offered previously. Part of the reason for this appears to be airport location.

He explained: “Some of our business market will just not use Prestwick, but it will continue to be a leisure airport. I think it has great potential as a leisure airport, but that in turn means it is much more price sensitive traffic and that is where APD has such an impact. I think we would like to continue to grow Prestwick but we are waiting for the new management team to be appointed there.

Asked about the improvements which he had proposed for the business customer and whether these were already paying off, O’Leary was quite frank and said: “I think so! We started this process about twelve months ago in improving a better customer experience. I think we have made mistakes in the past by being too focussed on just being the cheapest and not addressing what were fairly minor elements of our service that caused passengers a lot of grief, the free seating being one of those and of course being overly strict on the rules over one carry-on bag.

“We have addressed a lot of those issues in the last twelve months. We have rolled out a much better website and a new mobile app, a  product that offers discounts for families travelling on Ryanair, discounts on checked in bags and allocated seats for the children, and now a new business product that gives business passengers flying with Ryanair flexible tickets, allocated seats, priority boarding and fast track through airport security. We have seen a huge and very favourable response from customers. Load factors are up, traffic growth is up strongly and profits are up as well. It is working!”

Ryanair’s half year results will be out in the first week of November. The results in the last financial year showed a dip in company profits for the first time in five years but the CEO said that this year’s profit guidance has already been increased. Asked about reasons for last year’s dip the former accountant explained: “Last year the reason was softer pricing. A lot of other airlines reported softer pricing too but I think it was the kickstart we needed to begin to address the problems of customer experience and all the things we have done this year. We can’t always be the cheapest just for the sake of being the cheapest. We need to be the cheapest and the best in terms of delivery of customer experience and service too.

“I am a regular traveller and of course I know how the system works. But the business needs to evolve for new passengers coming to Ryanair. Regular users of our flights know how to comply with the system. They know all the rules. But I think we created an unnecessary fear factor against potential customers who haven’t flown with us before, but who might like our prices. They have been put off by the image or the reputation that we will fight with them over baggage size or there will be a scrum at the boarding gate over free seating. There isn’t and now we need to get that message across that we are being nicer to customers and customers are enjoying the experience. Try us you’ll save money, save time and you’ll have a pleasant experience as well.”

Asked about the possibility of taking on any of Richard Branson’s other businesses he dismissed the idea completely and said he is going to stick to airlines, rather than being distracted into running any other types of organisation.

“We will focus on being an airline. We are Europe’s biggest airline and we want to continue to be that and continue to save our passengers money.”

On their green credentials the CEO also claims that Ryanair is doing well. “We are ranked by independent studies as the greenest cleanest airline in Europe. We have the youngest fleet therefore the newest engines. We also do not offer an expensive or wasteful business class product therefore we carry more passengers per flight which equals fewer emissions per passenger than any other airline.”

You have until Thursday to book flights to London with Ryanair at prices from £19.99 upwards.





Prime Minister in Glasgow tonight


The Prime Minister David Cameron has been in Scotland all day today, visiting Scottish business ahead of attending the CBI dinner tonight.

In CBI President Sir Mike Rake’s speech this evening, he said that he firmly believes that the UK is and always has been greater than the sum of its parts and warned that the risk of a yes vote for Scotland and the UK is enormous.
On the Scottish referendum, Sir Mike said:

• “Undoubtedly, the decision on Scotland’s future is ultimately one for the voters here in Scotland.
• “In three weeks’ time, a yes vote based on so many substantive questions unanswered, will be a binary decision – a one way ticket to uncertainty with no return.
• “Currency union is an example. The liability, exposure and lack of control such a union would levy on the UK taxpayer makes it an obvious non-negotiable position for the UK Government. It’s why we wanted to see what the Scottish Government’s alternative plan would be.
• “The goods and services from key sectors in Scotland like finance, energy, and defence thrive by virtue of being part of our internal market of 60 million consumers, as well as being linked to a network of regulation, investments, and support. We should have no fear of drawing strength from what is achievable as one state. Scotland also benefits from the gifts of our shared institutions: the NHS, the BBC, the Royal Mint, the Armed Forces …200 bodies in all. But there is a profound difference between how we share them now, and the sharing of them with a neighbouring but separate nation state. Nothing can be taken for granted, and there are no guarantees.
• “As a new state, Scotland would have to leave and reapply to join and negotiate the terms of its EU membership. And to achieve this may well mean signing up to the Euro and Schengen. So, the question is whether all this negotiation would match the favourable terms established by the UK? Nothing can be taken for granted, and there are no guarantees.”

Sir Mike also raised the UK’s global future and made clear that open markets are an essential part of an open economy. He went on to highlight his concerns about the impact a possible EU referendum has on investment.

On Europe, Sir Mike said:

• “We accept that calling a referendum on EU membership is a constitutional issue for government, but the ambiguity has already, and is increasingly, causing real concern for business regarding their future investment. Business is in no doubt that we must retain and secure our country’s global future. If we’re isolated, we cannot be our best.
• “The growth and jobs we need depend on our external relationships, and it’s our membership of the European Single Market which is crucial. The EU isn’t perfect. The CBI’s Global Future report looked at other options and concluded that we are best served by remaining in the EU and seeking reform. We don’t want a special deal to satisfy narrow measures for the UK alone, but we do want Europe to become a more efficient place to do business – Lisbon Agenda, not Lisbon Treaty; for Europe to be more adventurous, open and competitive, and for its activities to be rooted in the priorities of member states.
• “With a new Commission and Parliament there is a window of opportunity to establish the building blocks of reform. We need our MPs and MEPs of all colours building helpful alliances in the European corridors of power.”

In his concluding remarks, Sir Mike focused on the great lessons of our Unions, national or international; that they reinforce our determination to drive forward towards prosperity and a better future for all our citizens. He shined a light on just how much there is still to achieve, the importance of minimising uncertainty and maximising our collective strength and the need to balance the challenges we face with a vision of the sort of country we all want to live in. He also stressed that this demands strong and pragmatic leadership from politicians and support from the business community.

Sir Mike ended by stressing his personal belief that we will remain a United Kingdom, within a reformed European Union, focusing on what’s important; growth, jobs and prosperity for all.

Commenting on these remarks Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“This is a humiliation for the Prime Minister on the same day one of his MPs has defected to UKIP, exposing the deep Eurosceptic seam running through the Tory Party which is dragging the UK ever closer to the exit door of Europe.

“For David Cameron to be lectured by one of the UK’s most senior business figures about the dangers of his in-out referendum on EU membership shows just how worried companies are about the prospect of the UK being taken out of Europe.

“For Scotland, the choice is clear – a Yes vote which will protect our place in the EU as an independent member, or a No vote which could see us dragged out of Europe against our will, shutting us off from a single market of more than 500 million people with potentially devastating consequences for jobs and investment.”

Meanwhile the Prime Minister said that if there is a No vote then the UK will devolve more powers to The Scottish Government ‘soon’. See Nick Robinson’s interview with David Cameron by clicking here.

Photo of David Cameron courtesy of Number 10

Scottish business to get more IP support


Businesses in Scotland will get greater Intellectual Property support following an event in Glasgow today when tools to assist them will be launched. 


The potential for businesses in Scotland to succeed and expand has received a big boost with the launch of new support tools to help small firms identify, protect and grow their intellectual property assets being shown off at a launch event today at Mitchell Library, North Street, Glasgow.


The Intellectual Property Office has launched ‘IP for Business’ – five business tools which make sure firms can tap into up-to-date guidance to help manage their intellectual property (IP) and get more relevant advice from their accountants and other business advisers.


The tools respond to the challenge of making sure businesses can generate value from ideas against a backdrop of poor understanding of intellectual property rights and how to exploit them.  At the centre of the toolkit is IP Equip – a new, free interactive online training tool that helps businesses and their advisors to identify assets which may be protected by intellectual property rights and think through the strategy for protecting them.


Minister for Intellectual Property Lord Younger said:-“Intellectual Property is a prospect which small businesses often find rather daunting. However, what ‘IP for Business’ shows, is that with the correct support and guidance this doesn’t have to be the case.


“The perceived barriers to protecting and managing IP successfully can be easily overcome. All businesses, regardless of their size or turnover, can use these products and I would urge them to do so to tap in their full growth potential.”


Colin Meager, Scottish Enterprise Intellectual Assets Specialist Team Leader said:-“Scottish Enterprise works closely with the UK Intellectual Property Office to assist Scottish businesses in the identification, management and protection of their intellectual assets and welcomes the launch of these tools. The tools will greatly assist businesses in the development of their IP protection strategy, which is fundamental to both business growth and international success.”


Pulsetta, an Aberdeen based manufacturer of gluten-free bread and other bakery products, understand how important IP is to their business. They recognise the value that can be gained from properly managing their IP and advises all SMEs to consider their IP from the start.


Dr Karsten Karcher, CEO and founder of Pulsetta, said:-“Protecting your intellectual property is especially important in the food industry as people can easily copy your ideas. In terms of your ideas, I would always say IP asset protection has to come first. If you’re not protected you could lose them.”


Other products launched include:


  • IP Equip app which is available to download free from the Apple store iTunes and Android App store. This will give access to IP information on the go.
  • IP Basics which is a range of new guides for business owners, explaining how to maximise the potential of IP.
  • IP Health Check which allows business owners to assess their own business for free with a tailored report to identify and value their IP.
  • IP Master Class which is a popular course which enables advisors to advance their knowledge.





Icelandair to increase flights from Glasgow airport

One of Glasgow Airport’s longest serving airlines has responded to an increase in demand by announcing it will increase seat capacity by 25% with the introduction of an additional weekly service in 2014.

Icelandair will add a fifth weekly flight to its Glasgow to Reykjavik service commencing Monday 7 April 2014. In doing so, the airline will strengthen Glasgow’s connections to Iceland and Icelandair’s extensive list of North American destinations.

It will be the second consecutive year the airline has added capacity at Glasgow and the fifth weekly flight will increase Icelandair’s seat capacity from Glasgow by an extra 7,500 departing seats per year.

The US and Canada are Glasgow’s second and third largest international markets. Collectively, they account for almost 100,000 visitors to the city each year; generating around £37 million for the local economy.

Events such as the 2014 Commonwealth Games, the Ryder Cup and Homecoming Scotland are expected to provide a further boost to what is already a popular service, particularly with the North American market.

Hjorvar Saeberg Hognason, Icelandair general manager UK & Ireland, said: “Our Glasgow route has always performed well, which is no surprise when you consider the size of the catchment area and breadth of industry. We are very excited about 2014 and the extra capacity will allow us to offer even more seamless connections to our growing number of destinations in North America. It will also make it easier for people to travel from Glasgow to Iceland, which was recently voted the world’s friendliest country by the World Economic Forum.

“With the introduction of both Edmonton and Vancouver to our network, we expect strong demand from both business and leisure travellers looking to travel to Canada. The Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup will also prove a huge draw for our North American customers.”

Amanda McMillan, managing director of Glasgow Airport, said: “Icelandair has been serving Scotland since the 1940s, providing important links to the United States and Canada via Reykjavik. The decision to enhance this historic route is a welcome one as not only does it demonstrate the airline’s commitment to the Scottish market, it further strengthens Glasgow’s extensive long haul network.

“With a series of world class events, including the Commonwealth Games, 2014 promises to be an exciting year. Icelandair’s expansion is no coincidence and it will ensure even more people from Iceland and beyond, can come and enjoy the best of Scotland.”

Councillor Gordon Matheson, Leader of Glasgow City Council and Chair of Glasgow City Marketing Bureau (GCMB), added: “The addition of a fifth weekly flight between Reykjavik and Glasgow is a reflection of the popularity of Icelandair’s service and is a major boost for the city ahead of the Commonwealth Games.

“It presents us with even greater scope to grow short-break leisure tourism from Iceland and it opens the door to new opportunities within the US and Canada, both of which are key markets for Glasgow.

“Specifically, over the coming months GCMB will be working closely with Icelandair and Glasgow Airport to implement joint marketing campaigns in Boston and Halifax aimed at highlighting the ease of access to Glasgow and Scotland for visitors from the eastern seaboard and North America.”

Business50 taking place in Glasgow

Be a Market Leader in Glasgow

The Business50 Show on 30 April 2013 at Hampden Park is billed by organisers as the premier business event in the area this Spring. This is what they say:-

“We are delighted to have again partnered with the Supplier Development Programme team to bring up to 30 exhibitors from Local Government and Public Sector organisations. These exhibitors want to speak to new suppliers of a wide range of goods and services. They want to speak to you……..so click here today to book your place which is totally free.

We are expecting really high footfall for this event on 30 April – at least 500 – so what better opportunity to showcase your company as being the market expert and leader in your field. With only one company per business category exhibiting, you will stand out from the crowd. The costs starts from £200 + Vat to exhibit – that’s less than 50p per contact. Click here to find out more.

B50 Glasgow is here
On Tuesday 19 March, we are delighted to bring our very first event to Glasgow at 6pm – 8pm at Novotel Glasgow Central, Pitt Street. The SmallBusiness50 Club will meet for the first time in the city. To celebrate the first meeting which will be an informal evening of sharing opportunities and lots of interaction, we would like to welcome both friends and members to attend at the members rate of £15.00 which includes a sandwich supper, tea and coffee. Click here to book today.

Our FAQs
We have created a FAQs page here and hope to provide answers to some of your questions about Business50. If your question is not shown here, please drop us a line so we can add it to the list. One of the most frequently asked questions is “Do I have to attend all the events? The answer is “Not at all – the choice is yours as is everything about Business50 – the choice is yours”

Thrive Lunch 4 May 2011

Budding business tycoons have the chance to learn from the best on Wed 4 May.

The Scottish business networking organisation, Thrive for Business, is hosting an exclusive lunch event in Glasgow’s Brian Maule Restaurant, with guest speakers from STV and Capital FM.

Commercial directors Peter Reilly and Pamela Richardson are responsible for driving the airtime and digital revenue for STV and Capital FM respectively, through developing and nurturing successful business relationships with advertisers and agencies.

And they are clearly doing something right – broadcasting figures for the companies currently stand at over 4 million viewers and 6.7 million listeners each week.

With STV recently delighted by an £18m settlement with ITV, and Capital FM teaming up with Starbucks for cross-brand promotion, attendees will have the priceless opportunity to quiz these successful representatives on how best to utilise the wonders of advertising to grow their own businesses.

Thrive For Business host regular networking events every month in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dumfries and soon to be Aberdeen, designed to help businesses grow by creating the opportunity, atmosphere and motivation for success.

For more information and to book a place at the next event, visit www.thriveforbusiness.co.uk

What: Thrive for Business  networking event
When: Wednesday, 4 May 2011, 12.00 PM – 2.00 PM
Where: Brian Maule Restaurant, Glasgow
VIP Speakers: Peter Reilly, Commercial Director, STV
Pamela Richardson, Commercial Director, Capital FM