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Crib Sheet: Michael O’Leary, CEO of Pay-per-Pee Airline Ryanair

Michael O'Leary

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Last year, Ryanair, the budget airline run by Michael O’Leary, announced it was considering introducing coin-operated toilets on its flights. Hilarity and shock ensued, along with some great graphics–most notably on the b3ta.com website. Today, it announced that, along with hiking the cost of checking in bags to the hold during the school holidays by 25%, it is making good on its threat, along with losing two of the three existing toilets to make room for another six seats. Yes, frequent fliers, the pee-free plane has become reality.

Earlier this year, the company was named as one of the least ethical companies in the world, alongside Monsanto, Chevron, and Halliburton, but its CEO is, arguably, a brilliant marketeer and self-publicist. And, where he goes, other airlines follow–Spirit has just announced it is to charge $45 for carry-on bags, for example. The 49-year-old tax lawyer turned businessman has a mouth on him the size of the Liffey, and uses it to great effect in the cause of Ryanair. So, fasten your seatbelts, cross your legs and let’s see what makes O’Leary such a “character.” Oh, and feminists? “Get a sense of humor.”

I’m Randy, Fly Me: O’Leary suggested Ryanair might start providing first-class travel. It would come with the strapline “bed and blowjobs.” All this was said as he unveiled a nearly naked calendar of his flight attendants. All profits would go, he said, to charity.

Find a loophole and exploit it: In order to avoid commuting-hours gridlock, he paid $6,100 dollars for a taxi license so that he could use Dublin’s bus and taxi lanes. When his little secret was discovered, he was unrepentant. “Last time I checked, this was a democratic republic. As long as I pay my taxes, I’m free to do with my money what I like.”

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He’s a master of customer relations: “What part of No Refund do you not understand? You are not getting a refund, so fuck off.”

He can still shock his mother: O’Leary dressed up as the Pope to publicize Ryanair’s Dublin-Rome route. Strapline? “Habemus lowest fares.”

He’s good at word-association games: Travel agents? “Fuckers.” British Airways? “Bastards.” U.K. airport operator BAA? “Overcharging rapists.”

He can even do it in other European languages: The European Commission? “An evil empire.” EU Commissioners? “Morons.”

Michael, describe yourself in nine words: “An obnoxious little bollocks, a jumped-up Paddy, a gobshite.”

Nobody shaves overheads quite like him: Pilots pay $75 for a job interview, $300 for a simulator test. Ryanair employees are forbidden from charging their cell phones with office sockets, they have to supply their own pens, and flight attendants pay for their own training, uniforms, and meals.

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Or whacks his customers in the wallet: Passengers pay to put their luggage in the hold, to pee, to check-in in person. In some cases, they are made to carry their own luggage to the planes themselves. No sickbags are provided, the planes are not cleaned between flights, there are no pockets on the back of the seats, no window shades, and water costs $6 a liter.

If he hasn’t been approached by a publisher to pen a book of insults, it’s a crying shame: “Germans don’t like low fares? They will crawl bollock-naked over broken glass to get them.” Special ire is, however, reserved for the environmental lobby. “Half-witted loons who can’t add two and two.”

The campaign to make O’Leary Pope starts here.

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About the author

My writing career has taken me all round the houses over the past decade and a half--from grumpy teens and hungover rock bands in the U.K., where I was born, via celebrity interviews, health, tech and fashion in Madrid and Paris, before returning to London, where I now live. For the past five years I've been writing about technology and innovation for U.S

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