Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary protected by police after protest from sacked rival airline staff
Published 08/02/2012 | 05:00
RYANAIR chief executive Michael O'Leary had to be protected by police after being insulted by angry workers from a rival Spanish airline which went bust last week.
Officers escorted the businessman to the departures gate at Bilbao Airport in northern Spain so he could catch a flight to Madrid.
Around 30 workers from the Catalan-based airline Spanair tried to sabotage a press conference at the airport yesterday morning where the controversial businessman was announcing new routes to the Spanish capital and Barcelona.
Police had to step in after tempers flared as he left making a victory sign in front of TV cameras in an apparent act of provocation.
Several locals surrounded him, swearing at him and giving him the middle finger as officers intervened.
The Spanair workers, who have led a nine-day lock-in at Bilbao Airport after their firm's demise, held a sit-down protest after Mr O'Leary left for Madrid.
Local union leader Jon Herrera accused him of a lack of respect.
He said: "He has stood in front of a group of workers who have lost their jobs overnight and raised his hand in a symbol of victory.
"He's disqualified himself."
Other airlines including Ryanair stepped in to help when thousands of passengers were stranded at airports around Spain last Saturday after Spanair went bust, cancelling all its flight at short notice.