The UK’s Advertisement Standards Authority (ASA) has sanctioned Ryanair after deciding that some of its adverts regarding CO2 emissions were “misleading”. In 2019 the airline released press, TV and radio adverts which claimed the budget carrier to be “low CO2” and “Europe’s… lowest emissions airline”.
However, the ASA found that the adverts did not make “sufficiently clear” what the full basis of comparison with competing airlines was, nor was it fully clear which airlines Ryanair was comparing itself to.
“We consider that neither [the TV nor the radio] ad made the basis of the comparison [in respect of CO2 emissions] sufficiently clear”, the ASA decision reads.
One chart which Ryanair used as proof it was ranked the highest in overall efficiency rankings for CO2 per passenger was of “little value” because it was dated 2011.
All three adverts are barred from appearing again “in their current forms”. Ryanair was instructed to have “adequate evidence to substantiate” environmental claims and to “ensure that the basis of those claims were made clear”.
Jo Dardenne, the aviation manager with the clean transport campaign group Transport & Environment, said the ASA's decision “is a reminder that the aviation sector’s climate impact is soaring because of a decades-long tax holiday and almost zero regulation of their pollution”.
Dardenne, who works on tackling the growing greenhouse gas emissions in the field of air travel, argued that “Ryanair should stop greenwashing and start doing something to tackle its sky-high emissions.”
Ryanair, were unapologetic following the ASA’s decision. They said they had to make “minor adjustments” to their adverts which they found surprising because “the message was approved in other markets and we provided all the supporting data they required”.
Their statement noted that they are “delighted” with their adverts which they believe communicate “a hugely important message” to customers.
According to their statement, “Ryanair's CO2 emissions per passenger km is 66g, which is 25% lower than the other major European airlines”.
“The single most important thing any consumer can do to halve their carbon footprint is switch to Ryanair”, they added.