Ryanair's naked ambition

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary has revealed his latest wheeze to squeeze a bit more cash out of his customers, with the launch of a new Ryanair calendar – though this time the proceeds will go to charity, rather than straight to his bottom line.

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Twelve lovely ladies from the Ryanair cabin crew have been persuaded to ‘strip down to their bare essentials’ for the new calendar, which will be on sale on Ryanair flights from this Saturday.

Our immediate reaction was to wonder whether O’Leary was trying to encourage his cabin crew to wear clothes less regularly, in order to save ‘wear and tear’ costs. But apparently the plan is to raise money for children’s charity Angels Quest. So although it may sound like the kind of exploitative misogynist stunt that would antagonise feminists everywhere, it’s really all in a good cause.

You might have thought that Ryanair would be shying away from scantily-clad lovelies for a while. Last week it got its knuckles rapped by the Irish Advertising Standards Authority after using a model dressed as a schoolgirl to advertise cheap flights in the school term-time. ‘The recent Ryanair ad depicted the sexualisation of a young woman, purely for commercial purposes… [It] displays an obvious disrespect for young girls and women,’ ranted one women’s leader. Nice to see it’s learned its lesson, then…

Still, O’Leary needs to be careful – there are some dangerous precedents in this area. In 2005, a nude calendar helped United Airlines flight attendants get activist, when a dozen fifty-somethings stripped off to protest against the loss of their pension obligations. And Delta Airlines found itself on the wrong end of a discrimination case after sacking trolley dolly Ellen Simonetti, who had posted some suggestive pictures of herself (in uniform, but with a few too many buttons undone) on her internet blog.

Unfortunately we haven’t had the chance to peruse the calendar, so we’re unable to judge whether it provides good value for money. But judging by Ryanair’s typical mark-up on a Kit-Kat, we’re guessing that it might be cheaper to head down to your local market and pick up ‘The Girls of Hollyoaks’ instead…

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