Ryanair chief Kenny Jacobs bails out for new horizons

KennyJacobsThe man charged with turning Ryanair from the “nasty airline” to the “flyers’ friend” has called it a day to “pursue other challenges” after six years as chief marketing officer.

Kenny Jacobs joined Ryanair in February 2014 from Moneysupermarket, where he had been CMO for just over a year. Prior to that he spent nearly five years at Tesco, latterly as brand communication director, and also had spells at Metro Cash & Carry, Accenture and Procter & Gamble.

During his time at the airline, Jacobs has embarked on a strategy to win over consumers by improving customer experience and tailoring the online preferences. Over the past six years Ryanair has also boosted the proportion of its revenue earned from optional extras, such as assigned seating and additional baggage, from just over 20% to just over 30%.

But in January 2019, a survey conducted by Which? found that Ryanair was the UK’s least-liked short-haul airline, for the sixth year running, while seven months later it came bottom in an annual Which? survey rating the customer services of 100 popular UK brands.

Ryanair responded by saying that passenger numbers had risen 80% in the previous six years and this was a more accurate reflection of the airline’s popularity than an “unrepresentative survey of just 8,000 people”.

Jacobs told Reuters: “I will enjoy a summer off with family and then look for my next challenge.”

Chief executive Michael O’Leary, normally not one to hold back in his criticism, has been almost gushing in his praise for Jacobs in an emailed statement. He said that Ryanair’s digital presence and customer service had been transformed under Jacobs over the past six years.

He added: “Kenny was the author of the successful ‘Always Getting Better’ brand six years ago when he first joined, and he has championed many of the successful customer service improvements we have launched in recent years, which has underpinned our successful growth and evolution.”

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