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Friday 19 October 2018

O'Leary takes vow of silence as he declines Dáil invite

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary Picture: Frank McGrath
Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary Picture: Frank McGrath
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

Embattled Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary has pledged to avoid public appearances over the coming months as he moves to repair the damage caused by the recent controversy surrounding flight cancellations.

Mr O'Leary yesterday turned down an invite to appear in front of the Oireachtas Transport Committee tomorrow, telling members that the "needs of our customers and our schedules must take priority at this time".

Ryanair has been under fire after last Wednesday's cancellation of 18,000 flights, affecting potentially 400,000 passengers.

In the letter, seen by the Irish Independent, Mr O'Leary said management would put its energy into "minimising the impact" of cancellations.

He said that Ryanair would move to repair the "management failure" within its pilot rostering department that led to severe disruption.

"I regret to advise that I will not be available to take up your invitation to meet with the committee on Wednesday, October 4, as all of our management time and attention will be devoted to minimising the impact of our recently announced flight cancellations upon our customers," Mr O'Leary wrote.

"Neither I nor Ryanair will be taking on any speaking or outside engagements over the coming weeks and months while we devote all of our time and attention to repairing this pilot rostering failure and to ensure it never recurs.

"Please pass on my sincere apologies to the committee members, but I hope they will understand that the needs of our customers ... must take priority at this time."

Mr O'Leary said customers affected would be re-accommodated or given refunds.

He pointed out that more than 97pc of Ryanair's scheduled early-morning departures operated on time last week.

But Mr O'Leary's decision not to appear in front of the committee has prompted criticism.

Last night, Social Democrats co-leader and committee member Catherine Murphy said the decision represented a missed opportunity for the company.

"I completely understand his point that he wants all energies deployed to resolving this issue. But there is also a trust issue here. It was only last week that Ryanair was running television advertisements promoting a seat sale when they should have focused on a public information campaign," Ms Murphy told the Irish Independent.

"The committee wanted to give Ryanair the opportunity to say what it is doing and what customers can expect."

Irish Independent

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