O'Leary: people want me dead
Published 03/01/2010 | 05:00
RYANAIR boss Michael O'Leary claims he has become so unpopular with the airline's passengers that half would be happy to see him dead.
He said many more would rejoice when he finally steps down in around two years' time after more than 17 years at the helm.
"I think there will be great joy, I think there will be dancing in the street at the idea of O'Leary leaving Ryanair," he said. "It will be a nicer, warmer, caring airline with me gone. I think half our passengers would like to see me dead and buried, actually, and eventually they'll get what they want. Frankly, I couldn't care less as long as they fly with us."
Mr O'Leary, 48, who recently announced he is considering ripping out seats on some services to take standing passengers, admitted he had done little to improve his image but said he was unconcerned what people thought of him.
He predicted that once he had gone, the public perception of Ryanair would improve. "I don't think I've done a very good job on the whole customer image of Ryanair," he said.
"Actually the service is phenomenal in terms of fares and our performance on punctuality, lost bags, and cancellations. One way or another we're going to change come 2012. That is probably the time you want to change the image of Ryanair. It is very easy to change the image of Ryanair. Just take me out of it."
Asked about the qualities his successor would require he said: "All the qualities that I don't have -- sensitivity, passenger care, environmentally sensitive -- all that kind of good, warm crap.
"They'd need to make up for 20 years of my mis-management in the areas that I don't manage well.
"I'm very good at running an airline which has very low costs, is very punctual and delivers what it says on the tin, but I don't have the skill set to make us warm and loved and I just don't give a rat's."
Mr O'Leary, who recently described former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern as a "feckless ditherer", said he was still undecided about what he will do when he finally steps down.
One option was to launch a new low-cost airline specialising in long-haul travel.
"I would consider it. I wouldn't rule anything out, I wouldn't rule anything in," he he told Flightglobal.com.