Michael O’Leary on Ryanair Success and EU Incompetence

Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary by Lachlan Markay –
Innovation and market disruption can be powerful forces for economic growth. But government involvement in the market tends to be a force against disruption, and hence a force against innovation. The drive to protect the dominant companies – often justified in the name of job preservation — prevents success for companies that offer better, cheaper, or different products or services.

The European Union received a frank lesson in these economic truths when it brought Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary to speak at its recent innovation convention. In a rousing and thoroughly entertaining speech and subsequent Q&A, O’Leary roasted the European Commission’s attempts to protect Europe’s major airlines, often at the expense of innovation in the industry.

“This is the first time I think that I or Ryanair have ever been invited to a conference by the European Union,” O’Leary jibed, “because as most of you know, the European Union spends most of its time either suing me, torturing me, criticizing me, or condemning me for lowering the cost of air travel all over Europe.”

Ryanair is renowned in Europe for its low-cost flights, and its unconventional pricing structures. The airline was the first on the continent to charge for checked baggage. It has even begun charging passengers for the use of in-flight restrooms.

But O’Leary insists that the company satisfies customer demand by providing the cheapest flights around. An average 1.5 hour flight across Europe costs a Ryanair passenger 50 euros, or about $65. Large competitors such as Air France and British Airways charge six to seven times that amount, O’Leary noted.

“Lower prices beats higher prices every time,” adding yet another jibe at the commission’s taxpayer-funded junkets on Europe’s more expensive airlines.

O’Leary also touched on a hot-button political issue in the emissions taxation scheme that would tax airlines, both European-owned and from other nations, for their carbon emissions, calling it “a complete load of bloody nonsense.” He noted that Europe’s exclusive participation in the scheme would preclude any real effect on the environment, while still imposing costs on European airlines and consumers. “At a time of deep recession,” O’Leary said, “only the European Commission could invent something as stupid as this.”

Check out the videos of the presentation and the Q&A below:

Michael O’Leary at the Innovation Convention 2011 – Brussels


Master Class with Michael O’Leary – Innovation Convention 2011 – Brussels

HT: The Heritage Foundation (article originally published on Dec. 25, 2011)


1 thought on “Michael O’Leary on Ryanair Success and EU Incompetence

  1. Hi I personally have had some personal issues with Ryan Air and we went to court to resolve them. So let’s just say that I have my reasons for not being a the typical “Ryan Air” fan, although the fact is I am and “Fair is Foul and Foul is Fair Through the Fog and Filthy Air”….

    Just because I had an issue with one flight, an issue which happened some 5 years ago, I had never stopped flying with neither Ryan Air nor Aerlingus either for that matter and my decision is usually based on weather or not I seek comfort over price on the day.

    I find the Airbus to be a more comfortable flight and with Aerlingus there tends to be less “panic” over rushing to board and all that stuff however Ryanair does have a better price in general and their aircraft are generally quite new although the Boeing is far less comfortable, its too narrow in my opinion, so depending on my requirements I will go with one or other on the day.

    Michael O Leary – “Commander in Chief”

    However aggressive, ruthless or eccentric Michael O Leary may appear to be while running his operation, I will say that I am proud of what he has done for the Airline Industry, I am proud of what he has done for Eire.

    We should all look back to what that little company was back then and how he has taken it to become the Leader in its class not only in Europe but Worldwide.

    We should all think back to about 15 years ago and dig out the the cost of flying as it was back then…Its a long time ago but It was a hell of a lot more expensive and we all flew a lot less, let’s be honest.

    The man as a “Commander In Chief” has done an excellent job, he has guts, “Brass Balls” and although I often find myself wishing I could give him a a good old Irish “Clatter” (Metaphorically Speaking) for some of the things he says and does, I have so say that the man is a bloody “Genious!”

    I live in Spain now, and I often hear people complaining about Ryan Air, well that’s an understatement, I could not put words on paper to explain how much they “Hate Ryan Air” and yet I find the same guys or gals on the next flight back to Dublin Via Ryan Air.

    anyway, back to O’ Leary, the man is a genious at the propoganda game, many ghastly things are published such as putting a tax on going to the loo, such as weighing people and not the luggage and that sort of thing but the fact is we all love and hate Michael O’ Leary at times but in the back of our minds, we often find ourselves saying…..

    Thank God for Ryanair…

    An Irish Airline run by an Irish Man who has little time for nonsense and has the “Brass Balls” to go as far as getting on the radio himself to defend his business and its values which is not at all common in that industry.

    So when I weigh the pros and the cons of flying with this company, I often complain and mumble to myself but I have to admit,

    So Once again Thank God for Ryan Air….

    Now I will tell you one thing, if we had a Taoiseach even have as “Balsy” and intelligent as Michael O Leary then there would be quite less “Horse Play” taking place in the Irish Banking scene and I can assure you that those politicians would never get away without producing a receipt for that Pint or two or three…

    I take my hat off to a fellow Irish Man…

    Well Done Michael O Leary, very well done.

    Darren Weldon –

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