Latest PR storm Michael O’Leary’s most difficult to calm

Embattled Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has a knack for finding his way out of a jam.

Michael O'Leary of Ryanair. Pic: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

In 2003, frustrated at being caught in traffic in his native Westmeath, the businessman registered his Mercedes as a taxi, allowing him to avoid the gridlock and zip through the restricted access bus lanes instead.

His latest predicament, however, may yet prove his most difficult to fix. Ryanair, faces a compensation bill of up to €20m for the flight cancellations “mess”.

Reputation-wise, both he and the firm have suffered a significant blow across the bows.

The cancellation fiasco, affecting around 2% of flights, was described by the chief executive as a self-inflicted “mess-up” caused by a backlog of pilots taking overdue annual leave.

Typical of the outspoken boss’s desire to spin his way out of a corner, O’Leary insisted the firm was “not short of pilots”.

He is no stranger to controversy, his open and frank press conferences often peppered with off-the-cuff remarks.

Plans to charge for using the toilet mid-flight, allowing mobile phones on board, and — announced this month— ending its policy of allowing non-priority passengers to have two items of hand luggage have courted attention.

He has previously compared himself to “the messiah” and said people see him as “Jesus, Superman, or an odious little shit”. He has admitted to being a “Neanderthal” and a climate change denier.

His latest PR disaster, however, may have much greater side effects than price hike plans or baggage restrictions. “Clearly there’s a large reputational impact for which, again, I apologise. We will try to do better in future,” he said.

Despite the PR storm surrounding the flight cancellations, O’Leary has refused to bow to renewed calls for him to quit.

He previously told the Westmeath Examiner in 2009 that he expected to stand down by the time he was “50/51”. Five years past that expiry date, O’Leary remains in the thick of the action more than ever before.


Related Articles

Ryanair appoints former Malaysia Airlines CEO to look after its pilots

Ryanair chief operations officer quits amid cancelled flights disruption

Holidaymakers 'struggle to find accurate financial protection information'

Ryanair chief operating officer, Michael Hickey, resigns from airline

More in this Section

Two die in Cork and Wicklow while working to repair storm damage

Banks facing fines for tracker mortgage scandal

Judge reveals €17,000 overcharging ‘to give heart to others’

Extra bill for HSE as delay hits €33m hospital system


Breaking Stories

Garda will not redact files for inquest into murdered Arlene Arkinson's death

UK government to help pay travel expenses for NI women travelling to England for abortion

First ever live broadcast of court proceedings in Ireland tomorrow

Environmental group launches court challenge to Government's National Mitigation Plan

Lifestyle

A helicopter put a piano on the 150-foot roof of Blarney Castle and other stories from the Cork Jazz Festival archives

Jazz Memories: Famous faces share their favourite moments

Live music review: The Horrors - Icy genius in a thrillingly intimate setting

Choosing a sheltered spot for Maples is vital

More From The Irish Examiner