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Interview of the Week

The great French philosopher Blaise Pascal once wrote: “All human evil comes from a single cause, man’s inability to sit still in a room.” By that token, I suggest to Michael O’Leary, he is one of the world’s most evil men, enticing millions of hitherto stay-at-home Brits and other Europeans to jet around their continent, befouling its air with carbon emissions and defacing its landscape with excrescent airports.

“For fuck’s sake,” says O’Leary. “For a start, the French have never produced a great philosopher. Great wine maybe, but no great philosophers. Ryanair is responsible for the integration of Europe by bringing lots of different cultures to the beaches of Spain, Greece and Italy, where they couple and copulate in the interests of pan-European peace.”

Just read the whole thing.

Michael O’Leary pwns The Guardian’s Stuart Jeffries. Utterly.

11 Comments

  1. Philip Scott Thomas says:

    I have a very good boss, for whom I quite like working. But I’ve never yet heard O’Leary interviewed on The Today Programme without thinking that he is bloody brilliant and that I would give my right arm to work for him. There would never be a dull day, that’s for sure.

  2. Westerlyman says:

    Brilliant interview and the comments (the ones that haven’t been removed) sound like they’re all written by sad leftie underachievers.

  3. Talwin says:

    How does the saying go? If God had intended man to fly, he wouldn’t have given us Ryanair’.

  4. Rob Fisher says:

    Forget media training, this is how all business people should talk to the media. O Leary is honest and correct, and Ryanair is an excellent airline.

  5. Mark V Anderson says:

    I was fascinated by the extremely derogatory comments in the Guardian. And vastly amused by the number that were removed, presumably for being even more derogatory.

    I have never flown Ryanair because I’m a Yank. In fact I never heard of it until now. I am curious if it is really so bad as so many said it was. I am coming to the conclusion that I’d spend a little more for my air tickets if the experience would be a little better, such as more leg room and fewer delays. So maybe I would stay away from the airline even if it was an option for me. On the other hand, the budget airlines in the USA usually aren’t any worse service-wise than the full-fare ones, so I have some skepticism. Is Ryanair really that bad an experience?

  6. bloke in spain says:

    When you see a CiF comments section with a quarter of the submissions moderated out you can be pretty sure someone’s hit the sweet spot.

  7. Talwin says:

    Rob F. Not sure if I’m being overly sensitive, but I feel slightly chided by your reference to the excellence of Ryanair which follows my little joke about God/Ryanair. But a joke is just what it was.

    So, for balance, let me say that I have flown with Ryanair just once – Blackpool to Stanstead – and they were, indeed, excellent. Cheap, punctual, and no-fuss efficient . Although the flogging of scratchcards was a bit intrusive, there was an agreeable sandwich and a decent brew; not especially cheap but nothing rip-off.

  8. John Galt says:

    With Ryanair you get exactly what you pay for. A relatively cheap ticket to your destination with nothing else added. You want a drink, you pay for it, you miss your flight and need another ticket, you pay for it, etc., etc.,

    Ryanair is actually a very efficient business and the mocking attitude of Mr. O’Leary is just a form of cheap marketing along the lines of all-publicity-is-good-publicity.

    Until Ryanair starts making a loss (or even loses significant market share to anyone OTHER than another budget airline), I would suggest that he is doing things right. People may not love him for his cheap and tacky airline, but people work hard for their money and (except in monopoly situations – which budget airlines aren’t), paying Ryanair for a ticket is just about the best approval that people can do.

    I personally only fly for business reasons, so I prefer to fly better carriers than Ryanair, so I only fly Ryanair when I have no alternative (e.g. getting to Norrköping, Sweden is easiest with Ryanair), but then it is my company which is paying this, not me.

    When I am travelling on holiday, I tend to fly EasyJet or Ryanair in Europe. This is simply because I want to get from South East England to say Rome, then I am prepared to put up with a certain amount of crap to get a return flight for under £200.

    The difficulty that I have with Ryanair is that when you add all of the necessary bits and pieces (primarily baggage), they often end up being the same price as a flag carrier – and at least the flag carrier flies into the main airport, not some ex-military airbase 70km away.

    Ryanair may not be a perfect airline, but the competition has reduced prices across the entire industry, so that British Airways can no longer get away with charging £700 for a return flight to Italy as people will just fly Ryanair.

    For this reason alone, I am prepared to put up with the crap from Michael O’Leary and consider that from a market and consumer perspective, he is on the side of the angels. Even though he’s a bit of a twat sometimes.

  9. NickM says:

    John,
    Exactly. People go on and on about the “extras” but that’s Ryanair’s business model and you can lump it or leave it. It’s the fact that it makes people angry that bugs me. Nobody gripes the same over the fact you have to pay for an alleged sandwich on and some hot brown liquid allegedly called tea on a train or the National Distress. But on a plane… I have never flown Ryanair but have flown other cheap airlines and found the service to be much the same where it counts. And yeah, sometimes I’ve just flown with carry-on and in the pre-9/11 USA that was just like getting a bus apart from with Delta who provided me with the only truly bad experience in flight of my entire puff. That was La Guardia to Hartsfield and they offered like four flights a day. Except they were playing the consolidation game. So despite being booked on the first flight of the day I wound-up on the fourth due to “technical issues” with flights 1,2,3. Yeah, right. This was, I feel, confirmed when I finally got on board the MD-80 and it was nearly full although from the chatter at the gate (most of which is unprintable on a family blog such as this) this was not the first time for Delta.

    Now to add insult to injury that flight was the nearest I ever came to aeronautical death. We come into Hartsfield and the flaps are extended the wheels are down and we’re seconds from hitting good Georgia dirt and then zoom climb! I never knew an MD-80 had it in it! Apparently there was another aircraft taxiing across the runway. So it was back in the stack.

    Compare with my last flight from Katowice to Liverpool. The A320 (WizzAir – a Hungarian budget carrier that only flies A320s – one of the RyanAir principles is commonality in flying-stock which is like D’oh obvious in terms of engineering and training costs etc*). Anyway, the ‘plane died at the gate and it was like 10pm and I’m thinking, “Buggery – I’m going to be stuck in Terminal A, Katowice (which is a former Warsaw Pact airbase – the gate guardian is a MiG-21 in the middle of nowhere – i.e. not especially close to Katowice) for the duration with nothing but a bag of salty sticks and a Coke”. But no! We de-plane, they shift the baggage over and we re-plane onto a spare A320. Total delay about an hour. And for a fiver extra Wizz offered (and we took – this covered both flights) the option of being seated at the wing bail-point which meant extra leg-room. Most comfortable flight in my life. I honestly can’t fault budget carriers from my experience. They grasped the essential truth that flying is no longer glamorous and all we want is A-B as quick and cheap as possible. The nerks who slagged off RyanAir in the linked article are – how can I put this – people who don’t like us proles flying and have some archaic view that flying is a luxury just for folks in white linen suits (and maybe flappers) who are seated in wicker chairs and ordering pink gins the right way. It is the same deranged statist mentality that gave us the Bristol Brabazon whilst Boeing built the 707.

    Mark,
    I think what I’ve written here already ought to explain RyanAir a bit but they are cheap and they also bust the hub/spoke model. They do point to point which is generally more convenient. They also make no bones about it. They get stick for charging extra for checked baggage but so what? They are actually cheap enough that Joe Public can (if booked in advance etc) weekend it in Europe for less than the price of a train ticket in the UK. Frequently much less. I mean why go to Edinburgh when Prague is cheaper? It’s a game-changer and O’Leary is right because things like that bring Europeans closer together than any cockamamie scheme dreamed up by the EU ever could. Which is why Guardian commentators hate it so. Because it’s not official and sanctioned and going through official channels and all the rest. Quite simply the fact my sister-in-law lives in Poland with her Polish boyfriend is from my viewpoint a greater cause of genuine European integration than anything the EU could come up with. We don’t need to be told to play nice because we already do and things like RyanAir and Skype do that without Angie, Nick and Dave having yet another bloody summit about it. Left to our own devices Europe would be vastly more genuinely united than it is under the EU and I call that a good thing. We don’t need them to have a pint, share a joke, make love, see the sights, whatever! on the other side of the continent. We just need us and cheap flights and the internet.

    Tim,
    I shall deal with it.

    *My previous flight was Turkish Airlines (a flag-carrier) and their array of ‘planes is boggling. Why fly A320s and 737-800s? Why have 767s and A330s?

  10. Mark V Anderson says:

    Thanks Nick. The section to me was one of the better rants on how travel by more and more people is the best recipe for world peace (not just Europe). Maybe O’Leary does deserve the Nobel Prize. He deserves it more than the politicians who do win it.

  11. NickM says:

    Well at least Obama seemed embarrassed about his Nobel. You know the one he got for not being George W Bush.

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