Readers Coffee Shop

The Irish Airline Boss Best Known for his Gags

Jokes about Michael O’Leary’s airline help to keep us amused. A favourite is O’Leary’s observation that the price of a Guinness at his local is very competitive.

‘So it is,’ replies the barman: ‘And will you want a glass with it, sir?’

With Ryanair, the price of your Flight Ticket does not include baggage or meals. Now with Covid cancellations, it doesn’t even include your flight!

Michael caused quite a stir on a rare occasion when he was invited to address the Irish parliament. While such a meeting sounds like a sombre affair, it seems as though O’Leary was doing his best to lighten the mood.

According to the Irish Independent O’Leary said: ‘It is a great pleasure to be here and in such impressive company. Addressing such an august body as this reminds me much of making love to the Queen of England. You know it is a great honour, you’re just not sure how much pleasure it is going to be.’

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary: ‘All flights are fuelled with Leprechaun wee and my bullshit!’ Photograph: Albert Gea/Reuters

After O’Leary finished his presentation to the group, British MP Andrew Rosindell asked the airline boss to apologise for his joke, saying it was ‘inappropriate’.

O’Leary backed down, apologising and saying: ‘I didn’t mean to convey any discourtesy and I apologise if I did.’

Often the joke is on the travelling public. The airline boss is a master at generating free headline publicity. Like Sir Richard Branson, O’Leary was rarely off media’s front pages. Branson gets his through participating in epic stunts and he is usually surrounded by eye-candy. 

The two businessmen follow a well-used flight path for the aviation industry has always attracted showmen. Many oldies will remember the bright and breezy Freddie Laker. By using surplus World War II aircraft he opened up the cheap holiday abroad market. His aircraft were the post-war charabancs of the skies.

One of O’Leary’s stunts was to have vertical seats fitted in his aircraft thus allowing him to cram in more passengers. Boeing, manufacturers of many Ryanair aircraft, ruled out the concept. Spokesman Nick West says; ‘Among other things, stringent regulatory requirements, including seats capable of withstanding a force of 16Gs, pretty much prevent such an arrangement.’

Ryanair’s fleet of Boeing 737-800 aircraft are each licensed to carry 189 passengers. O’Leary simply isn’t allowed to exceed this figure and he knows it but the publicity the story received was worth far more than the profitability such an arrangement might have brought.

The airline boss hardly allows a hoax to drift from the front pages before he dreams up yet another prank. His madcap schemes rarely come to fulfilment but it is fun to wonder which of them will bear fruit.

Another impractical con was to impose a €1 charge for using aircraft loos. This was followed by the ‘fat tax’; a scheme to surcharge passengers who the airline considered overweight.

Each headline-grabbing scheme was crafted to remind us that his company is a no-frills low-cost budget airline; it helps to keep the story alive. Journalists like O’Leary as he photographs well; he is a showman and his quotes are invariably outrageous.

Many recall the Irish airline boss wearing a German shirt after England’s World Cup defeat. The jibe got his pictures in the newspapers and doubtless endeared him to German, Scottish and Irish travellers without necessarily damaging his British credentials. He had his own take on it of course: ‘Now that England’s out of the cup it is time to get away.’

Free publicity works like an Irish charm and Ryanair is still Europe’s most popular carrier. The business world needs more human beings like Michael O’Leary.  ~ Michael Walsh

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MICHAEL WALSH is a journalist, broadcaster and the author of RISE OF THE SUN WHEELEUROPE ARISE TROTSKY’S WHITE NEGROESMEGACAUST,  DEATH OF A CITYWITNESS TO HISTORY, THE BUSINESS BOOSTERTHE FIFTH COLUMN VOLUME I and IIFOR THOSE WHO CANNOT SPEAKIMMORTAL BELOVEDTHE ALL LIES INVASIONINSPIRE A NATION Volume IINSPIRE A NATION Volume II , SLAUGHTER OF A DYNASTY , REICH AND WRONG,  THE RED BRIGANDSRANSACKING THE REICH ,    SCULPTURES OF THE THIRD RIECH: ARNO BREKER AND REICH SCULPTORS  SCULPTURES OF THE THIRD RIECH:  JOSEF THORAK AND REICH SCULPTORS ,   The Exiled Duke Romanov Who Turned Desert Into Paradise , THE DOVETAILS , SEX FEST AT TIFFANY’S  and other book titles. These illustrated best-selling books are essential for the libraries of informed readers.

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The revenge of a predator is a city-vigilante epic better than Death Wish A LEOPARD IN LIVERPOOL , 55 lavishly illustrated first-hand stories by a Liverpool sailor THE LEAVING OF LIVERPOOL, Latest Killer-Thriller From Michael Walsh the City Vigilante Supremo The Stigma Enigma , A powerful thought-provoking paranormal romance The Soul Meets, How to form a naughty ménage a trois THE DOVETAILS and SEX FEST AT TIFFANY’S.

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MICHAEL WALSH is a journalist, author, and broadcaster. His 64 books include best-selling RHODESIA’S DEATH EUROPE’S FUNERAL, AFRICA’S KILLING FIELDS,  THE LAST GLADIATORS, A Leopard in Liverpool, RISE OF THE SUN WHEELEUROPE ARISE, FOR THOSE WHO CANNOT SPEAK, THE ALL LIES INVASIONINSPIRE A NATION Volume IINSPIRE A NATION Volume II, and many other book titles. These illustrated best-selling books are essential for the libraries of informed readers.

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