Michael O’Leary, CEO of bargain-basement European airline Ryanair, is no stranger to stirring up controversy. But this is probably the first time one of his antics has resulted in him requiring police protection.
O’Leary traveled to Bilbao, Spain, this week to talk up Ryanair’s new routes to and from the airport. When he came across a pack of former Spanair employees who were protesting that airline’s recent decision to cease operations, O’Leary began making the V for victory sign, a move that did not sit well with the protestors.
And during the press conference, over the shouts of the ex-Spanair staffers, he cracked, “I’d like to thank all of our fans outside for helping us to promote the arrival of Ryanair in Bilbao today.”
Local police were forced to step in after tempers flared as O’Leary made the victory sign in front of TV cameras in an apparent act of provocation according to reports.
Several workers surrounded O’Leary, swore at him, and gave him the middle finger as officers intervened.
“He has stood in front of a group of workers who have lost their jobs overnight and raised his hand in a symbol of victory,” said one local union leader about O’Leary’s actions. “He disgraced himself.”
Here’s a news report from Spain:
Spanish police rescue Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary from angry mob [Irish Central]
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Thanks to Adam for the tip!