Michael O'Leary is one of Ireland's greatest entrepreneurs. He has almost single-handedly created unlimited low-cost travel across Europe. In doing so, he changed the travelling habits of millions, with an unyielding insistence that travellers turn up on time and pay for excess luggage.
It has been, for some customers, a sometimes brutal and bruising encounter, in the midst of which Mr O'Leary declared: "People say the customer is always right, but you know what – they're not, sometimes they are wrong and they need to be told so."
But it worked, proving that, if the price is right, people will conform to regulations, no matter how draconian. His blueprint has been followed by airlines all over the world.
At yesterday's AGM of Ryanair, a new and softer O'Leary appeared to emerge. It isn't that any of the rules by which it operates will be relaxed; it just seems that they will be enforced in a more humane manner.
Admitting that aspects of the company's rudimentary 'customer care' irritated air travellers, Mr O'Leary said he felt "a little bit misunderstood". Decency is a quality that the late founder of Ryanair Tony Ryan valued. It is to be hoped that by embracing this value, the airline that carries his name will demonstrate that it has matured into the world-class business that it is.
It will be interesting to see how the "caring" side of Mr O'Leary emerges, but serious Ryanair watchers must hope it will not deter the airline tycoon from continuing to make unique pronouncements on a whole range of issues, from climate change to the current state of the Irish economy.