Tuesday 17 October 2017

Secret recording: Willie Walsh admits he's 's****ing' himself over Ryanair pilot fiasco

IAG boss was addressing €20k Fine Gael fundraiser in Shelbourne

IAG boss Willie Walsh and Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary. Photo: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg
IAG boss Willie Walsh and Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary. Photo: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

AIRLINE boss Willie Walsh has claimed he is “s****ing” himself over Ryanair’s response to their pilot rostering fiasco.

The head of International Airlines Group told a Fine Gael fundraiser, which raked in up to €20,000 for the government party, that the low cost airline will be harder to compete with in the future.

Media were banned from the exclusive breakfast in the Shelbourne Hotel where the former Aer Lingus CEO mocked Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary and hit out at ex-Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

Among the guests at the €70-a-head meal were Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan, Attorney General Seamus Wolfe and representatives from well-known companies such as Grant Thornton, Goodbody and Sherry Fitz and Red Flag.

Willie Walsh chatting with Taniste Frances Fitzgerald TD and Kevin O’Higgins Chairman of the Fine Gael Dublin Bay South Constituency Chairman at a Buisness Breakfast in The Shelbourne Hotel.
Willie Walsh chatting with Taniste Frances Fitzgerald TD and Kevin O’Higgins Chairman of the Fine Gael Dublin Bay South Constituency Chairman at a Buisness Breakfast in The Shelbourne Hotel.
The Shelbourne Hotel where Fine Gael Dublin Bay South Constituency held a Buissness Breakfast .

Independent.ie was refused entry to the red carpet event but obtained a recording of Mr Walsh’s speech in which he promised “unlike some of our competitors everything I tell you today is true”.

He described to a laughing audience how he was once confused by a punter in a bar for his Ryanair rival: “I was like ‘f**k off and leave me alone’.”

However, he also said Ryanair has had great success.

“Their ability to change is unparalleled and their ability to fix things is unparalleled. A lot of people are taking great pleasure out of what’s going on.

“Personally I’m s***ing myself because a reformed Ryanair will be even more difficult to compete against,” he said.

Behind closed doors Mr Walsh also sought to clarify the long-standing belief that he was involved in an attempted management takeover of Aer Lingus in 2004.

While Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern used Dáil privilege to suggest Mr Walsh and two other colleagues “wanted to steal the assets off the airline” and “shaft the staff”.

“I never made an effort to do a management buy out at Aer Lingus. That’s a vicious rumour and completely untrue.

“What we did was take advantage of a little bit of hesitancy by the then government. We tried to push the issue of the privatisation of Aer Lingus forward when we asked if we could make present a case for an investment scenario in Aer Lingus,” he said.

“The then Taoiseach, as you know, was a little bit upset about this and was quiet critical of myself and my colleagues. He made some statements in Dáil Eireann that he has never made publicly. I’m not a fan of Bertie Ahern.”

The breakfast was organised by the Dublin Bay South branch of Fine Gael where Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy and Kate O’Connell are TDs.

At the same event last year Mr O’Leary was the guest speaking and controversially branded RTE a “rat-infested North Korean union shop”.

Online Editors

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