ASA Ruling on Ryanair Ltd t/a Ryanair Ltd
The United Kingdom’s Advertising Standards Authority concluded that the airline’s claims that customers choosing Ryanair over another carrier would have lowered personal carbon dioxide emissions were misleading and in violation of the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising. The ASA found consumers would find insufficient information in the advertisements to substantiate the company’s claims and further notes that well-known competitors were absent from the calculation used by Ryanair.
First, the ASA found that the ad guided consumers to think that “by choosing to travel with Ryanair, their journey would be contributing to lower CO2 emissions than if they had chosen to travel with any other European airline.”
Second, the ASA also found that while seat distance was an appropriate method to demonstrate to a consumer how their carbon footprint would measure against another European Airline, insufficient information was provided in this regard to ensure that customers understood the basis of this claim.
Third, the ASA found that the headline “Europe’s lowest fares, lowest emissions airline” did not have an objective or reliable comparison. Instead, it found that “consumers would understand it simply to mean those airlines they had heard of, particularly given that the headline claim gave no indication that the comparison was not market-wide.” Additionally, this was simply not the case, since Ryanair scored in 5th position for CO2 emission out of 27 European airlines.
In sum, the ASA found Ryanair liable for misleading advertising, substantiation, and environmental claims.
ASA ordered Ryanair to desist from using the advertising that was the subject of this case.
Misleading climate claims can often be combatted through laws and regulations that prohibit false advertising and are designed to protect consumers. Since consumer protection laws exist in most countries, this is a potential additional avenue through which to bring climate action in the courts and increase corporate accountability.