Jester keeps shareholders smiling and clapping despite 'cock-up'
Michael O'Leary was all "mea culpa" for the "boo boos" behind Ryanair's flight cancellation fiasco and despite the turmoil of 315,000 passengers losing out on booked flights, his fellow shareholders seemed to lap most of his answers up yesterday.
His approach to what was described by Mario Rosenstock on 'Gift Grub' as a "cluster-flight", worked a treat. He took responsibility and managed to squeeze in at least half a dozen apologies over the course of an hour.
The Ryanair boss buzzed around the room where the AGM was being held, swatting away fears of reputational damage, union infiltration or a blue flu, like an irritating fly at his ear.
By the end, instead of a final grilling, one shareholder took the opportunity to ask for a signed photograph. Not for him, for a friend, he insisted.
Though, with compensation to pay out to many of his customers - he'd of course have to hand these out at a premium. "€2.50 for black and white and a fiver for colour," the CEO quipped.
There was even applause at one stage, though the "cock-up", as shareholder Brian Graham referred to it as, still dominated proceedings. Mr Graham was worried about a return of "gung-ho management" with others fearing a "haemorrhage of pilots". He said Mr O'Leary had rubbed pilots up the wrong way - but again would not move to totally criticise. If there was an honours list in Ireland, Mr O'Leary would of course be top of the pile, he told us.
Responding to reports he had been labelled "a clown" in a pilots' WhatsApp group, Mr O'Leary deemed the description "appropriate given the circumstances" but insisted heads would not roll. "This is not the time to bring people out and shoot them, this is the time to tell them 'you made the mess, now fix it'."
The circus will carry on in the coming weeks, but the 'clown' still has shareholders smiling.