Pilot suggests cost-cutting O’Leary take the axe to himself

IT’S about the only thing cost-cutting Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary hasn’t taken an axe to — himself.

But one helpful employee has made up for that uncharacteristic oversight and set out a plan that O’Leary himself has had to admit is very much in keeping with his company’s no-frills philosophy.

The brazen CEO, famed for proposing pay-for-use toilets and fat taxes for overweight passengers, got a taste of his own discount medicine when one of his pilots suggested his boss be ditched and his place taken by a cheaper replacement — a probationary flight attendant. Captain Morgan Fischer made the remarks in a letter to the Financial Times in response to O’Leary’s latest idea to replace co-pilots with flight attendants trained to land in an emergency.

Mr Fischer, who trains and assesses other pilots at Ryanair’s base in Marseilles, France, said he made his suggestion in line with company policy.

“I am aware of the company’s desire to reduce costs whenever feasible, and, in doing so, pass on these lower costs in the form of lower fares to the travelling public,” he wrote.

“I would propose that Ryanair replace the chief executive with a probationary cabin crew member currently earning about €13,200 net a year. Ryanair would benefit by saving millions of euro in salary, benefits and stock options.”

Between salary and bonus, O’Leary earns just over €1m a year — relatively modest for a man of his stature in industry — but he is also the company’s biggest individual shareholder, giving him a total worth of over €400 million.

Captain Fischer said the CEO’s position could actually become a source of revenue for the company if, as is the case with Ryanair’s contract cabin crew providers, it was to charge candidates €3,000 for the training required to become chief executive.

He might have expected to have his wings clipped for his cheek but rather than see his career crash and burn, O’Leary has embraced his suggestion with trademark enthusiasm. Ryanair said Captain Fischer would not be reprimanded as his comments were being taken in good humour.

“Michael thinks cabin crew would make a far more attractive CEO than him so we are going to look seriously at the suggestion,” said spokesman Stephen McNamara.

The company denied the pilot’s actions indicated a problem with morale.

“If anything, this letter shows that staff are engaged in Ryanair’s mission to drive down costs and lower fares.”


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