Al Sahaf’s final call

Former Iraqi information minister returns to haunt low cost airline Easyjet

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By  John Irish Published  April 27, 2003

Just weeks after refuting claims that US troops were in Baghdad, Mohammed Saeed Al Sahaf, the former Iraqi information minister is now appearing on an advertising campaign for Ryanair, the UK-based low cost airline.

The ad features the Baathist information guru as chief of communications for Ryanair’s main competitor Easyjet. Al Sahaf, who became infamous during the Iraqi conflict for his overoptimistic presentation of the facts, claims in the advert that the airline has the lowest airfares.

The image shows captions coming out of his mouth saying ‘We’re winning the war’ and ‘We’re beating the Americans,’ referring to his optimistic messages as US troops entered Baghdad. The third bubble says “Easyjet have the lowest fares.”

The ad has come under heavy criticism from Easyjet, which has labelled it as insensitive in the current climate.

“At Easyjet we took a deliberate strategy not to mention the war in any shape or form on the basis that there had been enough pain and misery caused,” said Toby Nicol, spokesman for Easyjet.

This latest row adds to the ongoing rivalry between the UK’s leading budget airlines, which between them carry more than 30 million passengers each year.

In a statement taking a swipe at Ryanair, Nicol added that the airline had never claimed it possessed the cheapest fares available.

“Flying with Ryanair is a geography lesson. They go to places you can't spell and have never heard of, and certainly don't bear any resemblance to the destination advertised. By the time you have paid for a taxi to take you to the city center, it would probably have been cheaper to fly with British Airways,” he said.

As for Al Sahaf, since the war abated, a number of other companies have used the former information minister for his overt optimism. The Daily Mirror, the UK tabloid daily also used him in a cartoon claiming that the paper was set to beat its main rival, The Sun.

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