Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Monday, 25 November 2013

Ryanair - Coup de Grace

More than one historical novelist has bewailed the fact that history requires him or her to kill off the villain of the piece.

Much the same mood has overtaken the Tavern this week with the announcement that our occasional muse Michael O'Leary is to step out of the public eye.
After recently promising an end to Ryanair's "macho" culture and to "stop unnecessarily pissing people off", O'Leary confessed on Thursday he was "getting in the way of the brand stuff".
For the past few years, regular as clockwork, O'Leary has produced a carefully-timed outrageous idea in the first week of November - coinciding with the announcement of the winter schedules and Ryanair's annual financial reports - in an obvious attempt to secure headline coverage.

From all-standing planes and scrapping the co-pilot to salacious in-flight entertainment, the enfant terrible of the aviation world came up with ever more outlandish propositions to generate column inches, along with the collection of choice remarks listed by the Huffington Post.

This year, though, he may have overstepped the mark:
"I think we should ban burkas here in the UK. If you go to Saudi Arabia and they say the ladies have to veil up, you respect the local culture. Over here we are leaning over far too much for some of these minority religions.
If you want to come and live in Western society, I don’t think you should be allowed to walk around with some inalienable right to cover yourself up with only your eyes looking out.”
Offending the general public is one thing, but the enfant terrible of the aviation industry may have over-reached himself with that one; as other public figures have found recently, this is territory you enter at your peril.

This followed the much-publicised 'charm offensive' on twitter, for which O'Leary effectively ignored the 'charm' bit and landed himself with his usual accusations of sexism combined, for a change, with disability discrimination, so it may have effectively tipped an already wavering balance.

But it's interesting that a man who has been so outspoken in so many ways over the years should vanish from the scene immediately after pronouncing publicly on what has effectively become a taboo subject, particularly given the implied dissociation from the brand with which he has been identified for so long.

Of course, this retirement, too, may be an elaborate publicity stunt and O'Leary may yet be back next year as usual. For the purposes of the Tavern, I certainly hope so; it would be sad to lose such a rich source of inspiration for good.

Meanwhile, since O'Leary's antics seem to have a natural affinity with the men in black, by way of farewell.. or, perhaps, au revoir...

Michael O'Leary, they don't want him around...


  1. If he retires, will the service improve?

  2. Did you try the "Will you miss Michael O'Leary?" poll in your first link? When I looked, 54% said they wouldn't miss him.

    Surprised me, but maybe not on reflection.

  3. JH, I'd say the odds are in favour.

    AKH, I didn't see that!

    It's now 47% will, 53% won't - perhaps I'm not the only one who gets blogging mileage out of his antics.