Good news for all of us that O'Leary is in for the long haul
MICHAEL O'Leary is a bit of a tease. After years of telling the world that he was planning to retire, the 52-year-old airline magnate now says that life at Ryanair is too exciting and he plans to stay on for another five years.
In truth, it has always been difficult to picture Mr O'Leary at home in Mullingar breeding cattle and horses, but his announcement is nevertheless welcome.
Equally welcome is his commitment to establishing a long-haul discount airline that would ferry passengers between a few major European cities and about 10 cities in the US, spread evenly between the east and west coasts. Let's hope an Irish city features in his plans despite the Establishment's unremitting hostility to one of our greatest businessmen.
Ireland, and indeed Europe, has benefited hugely from Mr O'Leary's low-cost model which has kept families together, allowed emigrants and immigrants to move around the continent and created thousands of jobs. He has probably done more for European unity than a dozen European Union summits and Ryanair qualifies as one of the great forces for European unity.
Cheap air links between Europe and the United States at Ryanair prices would go a long way to improving the lives of the hundreds of thousands of Europeans and Americans who have decided to live in another continent by force or by choice. It would also go some way to improving business relations between the two continents. Mr O'Leary will have to retire one day, but it will be good for all of us if he can repeat his low fares trick over the Atlantic before he heads back to Gigginstown to devote himself full-time to breeding his beloved Aberdeen Angus.