Business Irish

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Ryanair boss should be 'sacked' and replaced with flight attendant, says pilot

Last week Michael O'Leary called for co-pilots to be removed from the flight deck to save money. Photo: Bloomberg News
Last week Michael O'Leary called for co-pilots to be removed from the flight deck to save money. Photo: Bloomberg News

Andrew Hough

The controversial boss of the budget airline Ryanair, Michael O’Leary, should be sacked and replaced with a flight attendant, a senior pilot for the carrier has claimed.

Captain Morgan Fischer, a senior pilot based in Marseilles, insisted the no-frills airline could save thousand of euros in salary, perks and stock options by undertaking the measures.

The 41 year-old, who also trains other pilots from the company’s base in the south of France, mounted the rare public challenge after the latest cost-cutting proposal from his boss.

His comments, in a letter to the Financial Times on Tuesday, followed Mr O’Leary’s call for co-pilots to be removed from the flight deck to save money.

The airline's outspoken chief executive also claimed that air stewardesses could instead be trained to land an aircraft in the event of an emergency.

But his comments earlier this month were condemned by pilots and passenger groups who questioned Mr O’Leary’s commitment to passenger safety.

In his letter Captain, Captain Fischer said he was aware of the company's desire to reduce costs "whenever feasible" to keep ticket prices down for the travelling public.

"I would propose that Ryanair replace the chief executive with a probationary cabin crew member currently earning about €13,200 net a year," he wrote to the paper.

"Ryanair would benefit by saving millions of euros in salary, benefits and stock options.

"The position of CEO could, in fact, become a source of ancillary revenue for Ryanair. Currently, Ryanair's contract cabin crew providers charge new recruits for the cost of their training – €3000 in fact."

He added: "Ryanair could similarly charge €3000 for the training required to become chief executive."

Captain Fischer, who has 20 years flying experience with airlines including Trans World and American, added there would be no need to get approval from regulators for the appointment.

While he declined to comment further on Tuesday it appears his comments were meant as a serious criticism of his boss.

But in a typically mischievous response, Mr O'Leary conceded that a flight attendant would be a "far more attractive" chief executive and claimed the suggestion was being seriously examined.

"Michael thinks that cabin crew would make a far more attractive CEO than him – this obviously isn't a very high bar – so we are going to seriously look at the suggestion," said Stephen McNamara, a Ryanair spokesman.

"After all, if we can train cabin crew to land the plane, it should be no problem training them to do Michael's job as well." He did not say if the pilot’s job was now at risk.

Mr O'Leary has previously suggested that planes could fly with “standing-only” areas for passengers and has also raised the idea of charging passengers to use the aircraft lavatories.

Earlier this year, he introduced an extra baggage charge during the summer holiday season, which vastly increased the cost of checking in luggage for a journey.

He has also denied the existence of man-made climate change.

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