It was just about to land in bookshops when Matt Cooper’s tome on Michael O’Leary encountered turbulence on the approach.
The Ryanair boss chewed over extracts — and then decided to chew out the author for what he said was “this unauthorised and sadly unsubstantiated book”.
Specifically, Mr O’Leary disputed the book’s account of the departure of two senior executives from the airline. Mr Cooper wrote that Howard Millar and Michael Cawley “were the first to be ushered out” during its 2014 rebranding.
In a statement yesterday, Mr O’Leary said both men “freely chose to pursue other career goals”.
“The board and I tried to persuade them to remain working in Ryanair,” he said, adding they were offered share options and positions as non-executive directors to try to persuade them.
Mr Cooper also wrote that Mr O’Leary had sounded out former Aer Lingus and British Airways boss Willie Walsh, now chief executive officer of International Airline Group, about taking over from him at Ryanair.
Not so, said Mr O’Leary, who said the Ryanair board would decide on his successor when that time came — although he admitted that he had long admired his rival.
Mr O’Leary continued that he had “politely declined” Mr Cooper’s request to co-operate with the biography, Turbulent Times For The Man Who Made Ryanair.
“I explained that I don’t like personal publicity and, for the sake of my family, I asked him not to proceed,” said Mr O’Leary.
“I was disappointed to learn over the weekend that other people who I know and admire, are being subjected to false claims and innuendo in this book.
“I sincerely regret any hurt or damage that may have been caused to Michael Cawley, Howard Millar, and Willie Walsh by these false and inaccurate claims.”
Mr Cooper, broadcaster with Today FM and Virgin Media One, wasn’t fazed. In fact, his response was delivered with a touch of O’Learian colour.
“The book is an unauthorised biography and is neither a PR job for Ryanair nor is it hostile to Ryanair or Michael O’Leary,” he said.
“As the book is only in bookshops today I do not believe that Mr O’Leary has had a chance to read it, and when he does so, I believe he will find that it is fair and accurate, even if he might not like to agree with some or much of it.
“I would not judge a flight merely on the quality of the take-off before it has landed safely. He should judge the book on reading it cover to cover.”
Mr Cooper’s publishers, Penguin said: “We are fully supportive of the book and its contents.”