Ryanair CEO Needs Police Escort After Gloating In Front Of Laid-Off Workers

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.”

From IrishCentral.com:

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]

Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary clashes with angry workers from Spanair [EITB.com]

Ryanair’s In-Flight Porn App Would Let You Join The Mile-High Club All By Yourself
Ryanair Now Planning To Remove Toilets From Planes
Ryanair Treats Passenger For Cardiac Arrest With A Sandwich

Thanks to Adam for the tip!


Edit Your Comment

  1. smo0 says:

    He won’t last long.

  2. Darrone says:

    Is it just me, or should these 2 things have nothing to do with each other? Spanair closes, Ryan opens, neither seems to have been predicated on the other.

    • tungstencoil says:

      It took me a minute too – he is gloating (“V for Victory!”) over the fact that a competitor closed, and that they’re still operating. At least, that’s the best I can make of it.

    • cromartie says:

      Being a dick toward laid off employees in public when you’re the CEO of a major company is usually a bad idea.

      It is certainly newsworthy even if the two are only tangentially related.

      • Darrone says:

        Not arguing it’s not newsworthy, I’m just wondering why the two parties began fighting in the first place? He was a total dick, but why? What did they do to him/he do to them? Why were they even protesting him?

        • Anathema777 says:

          They weren’t protesting him; they just happened to be protesting Spanair’s decision while he was at the airport. They just took issue with his making the victory sign in front of a bunch of laid off workers.

          • Anathema777 says:

            Oops, not as coincidental as I thought. From another article:

            “Around 30 workers from the Catalan-based airline Spanair tried to sabotage a press conference at the airport yesterday morning where the controversial businessman was announcing new routes to the Spanish capital and Barcelona.”

            It still sounds like they weren’t protesting him so much as the fact that Spanair had closed down and opened the door for Ryanair to fill in. But then, when he made his victory sign, that’s when things went out of control.

            • Helpful moose is helpful says:

              The protesters seem to have started it by tryiong to sabotage the press conference. Of course they have a right to be angry, but it doesn’t seem right to go after someone who (presumably) is going to replace at least some of the flights and jobs lost from Spanair.

              • Anathema777 says:

                Both the protesters and the CEO did what they did for the same reasons: media attention. The protesters wanted to draw attention to the job losses they suffered by appearing at the press conference. And the CEO pulls stunts like this all the time because it gives RyanAir free publicity. He wasn’t being an ass because they showed up at his press conference. He was being an ass because he knew it would be a more widely distributed story that way. And I think he’s a huge asshole to do something inflammatory that requires the police to pull his fat out of the fire.

                So while the protesters set up the situation by appearing at this press conference, he still holds responsibility for doing something that he very likely meant to be inflammatory.

      • jenl says:

        From another article:

        “In a press conference in Palma, Ryanair’s president Michael O’Leary said that the collapse of Spanair is “good news for tourism and employment in Spain,” since there will be more airlines occupying the place left by Spanair and therefore the traffic will increase and fares will be cheaper.”

        I suppose the collapse of your company and stating your job being ripped out from under you is a good thing would probably get on anyone’s nerves, and apparently, that’s subject (Yay, airline collapse!) has been a theme of his press tour.

  3. dolemite says:

    V for victory? I’ve always assumed that was the “peace” sign.

  4. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Why do people still use this airline? I find no redeeming qualities.

    • homehome says:

      Must be something, ppl don’t keep coming back just because they are around.

    • SecretShopper: pours out a lil' liquor for the homies Wasp & Otter says:

      It’s cheap, well cheaper than competitors mostly

    • j2.718ff says:

      They’re sometimes cheaper than their competitor. That’s it.

      I’ve flown them a few times, and can honestly say they are one of the most disappointing airlines I’ve flown. But they got me to my destination successfully.

      If the price difference between them and the next-cheapest airline isn’t large, I’ll definitely avoid them. But if the difference is significant, I’ll probably fly them again.

    • chefboyardee says:

      Gotta agree there. Plus when I’m hurtling through the air in a giant sardine can, I don’t know that “cheap” is the route I want to take.

      • zz9 says:

        Ryanair’s fleet, all Boeing 737s, is by far the youngest fleet in the business. Most US airlines have an average aircraft age of about 13 years. Ryanair’s fleet averages 3 years. Every time I have flown them the plane has been brand new and spotless.

    • shepd says:

      $20 tickets mean people will put up with a lot of shit.

    • Helpful moose is helpful says:

      Because most people consider flights to be commodity items (i.e. pretty much the same no matter what company runs it), and so buy the cheapest one they can find. Previous attempts to provide additional services or comfort at higher prices (such as American’s More Legroom Throughout Coach) been failures.

  5. Cat says:

    Both links, bad.

  6. mauispiderweb says:

    First it was the lavatories, and now this? Close em down!

  7. pop top says:

    He could also be flipping them off, British-style.

  8. hmburgers says:

    Classic example of elitism… If had done that in a pub, or anywhere else that the establishment’s police/military wasn’t present at best he would have had his ass handed to him… at worst he’d be a closed casket funeral.

    Very stupid thing…

  9. framitz says:

    The police should have waited about 10 minutes to see how things developed before getting involved.

    Kidding, but not so much.

  10. brinks says:

    Too bad the police intervened. What a dick.

  11. brinks says:

    Too bad the police intervened. What a dick.

  12. HoJu says:

    It’s kinda like if Michael Scott became heartless and ran an airline.

  13. The Black Bird says:

    What an ass!

  14. jp7570-1 says:

    This guy is both a nedia whore and a really lousy CEO. This is the same guy that is exploring seats that aren’t really seats – you stand up and lean against them – all in the name of selling more tickets. He’s also the same guy that charges you to use the “loo” on his airplanes.

    It proves that the USA does not have the monopoly on clueless, egomaniacal, greedy CEO’s. I travel internationally and will never fly RyanAir.

    • Round-Eye §ñ‰∫∫„ÅØ„Ç≥„É≥„Çπ„Éû„É™„ÉÉ„Çπ„Éà„ÅåÂ•Ω„Åç„Åß„Åô„ÄÇ says:

      Neither of those are true. Whether done for publicity or simply a hoax, neither was an actual plan that was legitimately explored nor would it be allowed legally.

      • Anathema777 says:

        I’m pretty sure both claims were made for publicity. Michael O’Leary will pretty much say anything if it means RyanAir’s name will appear in a news report.

  15. clearway says:

    easy answer, stop using ryan air

  16. coffee100 says:

    In case you happen to be unaware, upper management at every company feels this way about its employees. It’s been this way for at least ten years.

    They want you fired. They want all of their employees fired and replaced with complacent slaves elsewhere.

    The American workplace is lost. Start your own business.

  17. Hungry Dog says:

    “Oh no, I’m in trouble! Quick my golden parachute should save the day!”

  18. Span_Wolf says:

    I’m from Bilbao, also he looked quite at home sucking on the tip of that model airplane.

  19. jpdanzig says:

    This clod should be forced to fly around the world three times on a Ryanair plane — with NO lavatory privileges…

  20. Nighthawke says:

    I know of a few folks that would love to give him a kiss…

    Glasgow style.

    Enuf said.

  21. isileth says:

    Micheal O’Leary is famous for these stunts, because he doesn’t have to pay for advertising.
    He’s been fined many times for using pictures of famous people (for example the French President) to promote his company.
    Luckily Ryanair is way better than he is.
    The airplanes are new, clean and on time and the legroom is the same of many low-range carriers.
    I flew years ago with American Airlines and the legroom for a flight from Europe to America was even worse and the airplane was old.
    The tickets are cheap and there are places that are only served by Ryanair.
    I don’t like them, but when you pay half than you would for another company, I choose them.
    As regards the victory sign, this is common in Europe.

  22. Nobby says:

    LOL at this photo. Look at the hand gestures being displayed to his left! LOL.

  23. DragonThermo says:

    Makes perfect sense to me! A bunch of socialist union members negotiated themselves out of a job, allowing a more nimble competitor to swoop in. I’d call that a victory.

    • Talmonis says:

      Keep on gloating. Hungry people don’t stay hungry for long, and the first they’ll come for is the rich and their flunkies. Just ask France why they do everything they can to keep folks employed and with a decent standard of living. I’ll give you a hint boyo, it rhymes with Creatine.

  24. Doubting thomas says:

    Mostly I think of O’leary as a media savvy Jerk whose embrace of the “there is no such a thing as bad publicity” mantra makes him both a jerk and fairly bright. This time I have to side completely with him. Spanair closed. Nothing to do with Mr O’Leary or his airline. Protesters show up to his announcement that he is moving into the service hole left from Spanair’s collapse. This will presumably replace at least some of the jobs that were lost. Instead of seeking an appointment with his or his hiring department and negotiating for those jobs to be given to folks who need them they choose to be rude abrasive and disruptive to his event. His response isn’t to confront them or blacklist them from working on his airline. It is to throw up a victory sign. Too bad their poor widdle feelings got hurt.

  25. Weekilter says:

    That’s it stay classy Michael!

  26. AtlantaCPA says:

    Is it just me or does he look kind of drunk in that clip? He’s acting really goofy, and inappropriately jerkish as well, but really like a drunk teenager.

  27. belousugar says:

    Let’s see how it long it takes for the backlash to send this guy into early retirement.