GAINING ALTITUDE: Airline's outlook up as gaffe-prone CEO finds his media rudder

Does a more polite media image really translate to better business?  Linking cause and effect is always tricky, but the recent experience of Irish discount airline Ryanair may be instructive. 

In the US, the no-frills carrier is perhaps best known for the outlandish comments of its CEO, Michael O'Leary, who was dubbed "Master of the Gaffe" by Management Today


But buffeted by two profit warnings and a torrent of customer complaints, O'Leary has stepped aside as spokesperson-in-chief.  He's also tweaked his pricing formula, and made a number of customer service improvements after acknowledging that some of his policies  did “unnecessarily p--- people off”. 

For whatever reason, the kinder, gentler Ryanair now seems to be putting the turbulence behind.   It just reported record traffic in December, and the Wall Street Journal reports the airline should have no trouble maintaining cruising altitude.