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Dublin: 10°C Monday 25 October 2021

'I intend to say well done to our social media team and give them a raise' - Michael O'Leary

The Ryanair CEO was in flying form this morning at the launch of the airline’s winter schedule for 2017.

4339 Ryanair Michael O'Leary Source: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

RYANAIR CHIEF EXECUTIVE Michael O’Leary has brushed off criticism of his airline’s social media policy in the wake of mocking tweets being posted yesterday relating to employees of rival Aer Lingus being arrested in connection to a people smuggling scam at Dublin Airport.

Speaking at the launch of Ryanair’s winter schedule for 2017 this morning in Dublin, O’Leary said that it was clearly a sign that the low-fares carrier’s social media strategy was working, and dismissed the media’s coverage of it as “scurrilous” and “utter, complete rubbish”.

“When I saw the tweets last night I didn’t find them particularly funny,” he said.

But now I would say I am highly enthused by the reaction that they got. If we have managed to offend that many ‘snowflakes’ then we must be doing something right. I intend to give a well done note to our social media team and give them a pay raise for generating a large amount of free publicity for Ryanair.

He added that he would be instructing his social media team to “have a look at” doing similar campaigns in future, “given it is obviously so effective”.

Ryanair sent two tweets yesterday evening in the wake of the arrest of three people at the airport in connection with a people-smuggling ring (which involved the use of Aer Lingus branded catering trucks) which is alleged to have brought 600 illegal immigrants to these shores in the last six years.

O’Leary today dismissed the whole story as an example of “a slow news day” and “a storm in a teacup”.

He described the immigration facilities at the airport as “second to none” and said that he could apportion no blame to Aer Lingus regarding the situation.

What we are talking about here is the collusion of a small group of people. There is no security system in the world that can deal with issues of collusion.

He further asserted that he is “absolutely certain” that a similar scam could not be perpetrated via Ryanair planes.

“We have hardly any catering for starters,” was his tongue-in-cheek take on that inquiry.

Regarding his own airline’s fortunes, he held back his most scornful statements for the DAA (previously Dublin Airport Authority), comparing it to “North Korea in that they think they can charge whatever they want”.

Costs at the airport are clearly a bugbear of the CEO given, as the company said in its release, that other EU airports are cutting costs.

A spokesperson for the DAA refuted O’Leary’s claims, saying:

There has been no increase in charges in 2017. Our charges our flat.

In recent years, Ryanair has availed of Dublin Airport’s Growth Incentive Scheme, which offers airlines a rebate on fees in return for delivering increased passenger numbers. The scheme continues to operate at the airport.

O’Leary said his airline had delivered “70% of Dublin’s growth over the last two or three years”, but because the incentives lasted only 12 months its fees were now set to rise.

Ryanair’s new business would go to other European airports that had committed to cutting airport charges, rather than Dublin, he said.

The building of a new runway at the airport was similarly dismissed.

“This new runway will be half a kilometre longer than it should be. It should cost €200 million and it’s being budgeted at €350 million,” O’Leary said.

Why they decided to raise the budgeted cost and then go out to tender I don’t know. It should be the other way around.

(The DAA has said previously the correct estimated cost is actually €320 million, and not €350 million as claimed by O’Leary).

Aside from the social media storm and the trouble with DAA, O’Leary held court on the two main issues of the day – namely Brexit and Donald Trump.

“Brexit will be the single biggest challenge we face, given it should lead to a drop in Sterling, and consequently a drop in visitor numbers from the UK. There is no upside to it. The UK Government clearly doesn’t have a bull’s notion what it’s doing,” he said.

Don’t be surprised if in two years’ time the UK votes again when they realise the deal they’ve gotten is awful. And it will be awful. That’s what we did in Ireland, when we didn’t get the right result in a referendum we voted again until we did get the right result, twice.

Of the inauguration of Donald Trump, O’Leary said he admired the US President’s ability to “offend the middle class, liberal media”.

“They should be offended on a daily basis,” he said.

Of Trump’s ‘America First’ policy, he said: “It doesn’t work, it’s pure populism.”

If it did work North Korea would be a world economic powerhouse.
However, Trump can’t be any worse than Obama. Obama is much loved, and he did squat in eight years.

With reporting by Killian Woods and Fora

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