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Straight-talking Michael O'Leary

Michael O'LearyFT -- One of the best things about reading the Financial Times is the occasional interview, letter or advertorial by Michael O'Leary from Ryanair. The British papers and Irish press cover O'Leary verbatim--something a stateside news outlet couldn't afford because O'Leary is a salty dog. This week, FT asked O'Leary what Ryanair was doing about the demands the Belgian authorities have made for the return of €3.5m in subsidies received by the airline. "We have written back to say fuck off."

O'Leary's longest interviews appear in weekend editions where they double as personality shorts and business impressions. Graham Bowley cornered O'Leary in the City Club in London last year and ran the piece in the Financial Times Weekend section.

  • On the right to fly: "For years flying has been the preserve of rich fuckers. Now everyone can afford to fly."
  • On travel agents: "Screw the travel agent. Take the fuckers out and shoot them. What have they done for passengers over the years?"
  • On Ryanair's strict no-refund policy is the source of most complaints: "We don't fall all over ourselves if they... say my granny fell ill. What part of no refund don't you understand? You are not getting a refund so fuck off."
  • On Jurgen Weber, Lufthansa's chief executive: "Weber says Germans don't like low fares. How the fuck does he know? He's never offered them any. The Germans will crawl bollock-naked over broken glass to get them."
  • On co-existence with British Airways: "There is too much: 'we really admire our competitors'. All bollocks. Everyone wants to kick the shit out of everyone else. We want to beat the crap out of BA. They mean to kick the crap out of us."
  • On being happy: "They don't call us the fighting Irish for nothing. We have been the travel innovators of Europe! We built the roads and laid the rails. Now it's the airlines!"
  • On the ultimate goal: "Free tickets. In a decade or so, airlines will pay travellers to distribute people around Europe. The airline industry is Tesco, is Ikea, is network TV in the way viewers watch for free and advertisers pay for access to them, is the internet in the same way that websites earn money for delivering click-through traffic to other sites."

Wired magazine lists Michael O'Leary's Ryanair as one of the "top 40 companies driving the global economy." The magazine praises Ryanair.com, the site that handles 95% of all the sales.


ZI BIZ -- quotes from 27 May 2004
Tom Murphy -- "The copy editor and the story of PR immunity"
Edmund Burke -- "Neither fear of flying nor the f word"
Von Lorenz Wagner -- "Michael O'Leary: Bad Boy"
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