Sunday 16 June 2019

High and mighty O'Leary is brought down to earth

'The past six months have been something of a nightmare for the man who has built up what is arguably Ireland's most successful company.' Photo: Getty Images
'The past six months have been something of a nightmare for the man who has built up what is arguably Ireland's most successful company.' Photo: Getty Images
Editorial

Editorial

And so it came to pass that Michael O'Leary, the self-styled Red Baron of cheap travel, has finally been shot down in flames, not by the tail gunners of rival airlines but by his own words.

Hell would freeze over before Ryanair would engage with unions, has been the message written large across the heavens by the feisty CEO's sky writers.

But the past six months have been something of a nightmare for the man who has built up what is arguably Ireland's most successful company, which operates from 86 locations.

The first blunder was the failure to roster for holidays, which saw chaos strike during the peak summer holiday period. The second was the failure to recognise the leverage pilots now have. It is ironic that the man who has played the odds and won so many times in the free market stakes should have been defeated by the simple laws of supply and demand. He was undone by a scarcity of pilots.

The now receding prospect of chaotic cancellations across Christmas would shake the carrier's core commitment to passengers to get them there on time.

Mr O'Leary has forged the reputation of the airline on affordability, punctuality, and reliability. But the wily operator was out-foxed in the coop when all the chickens came home to roost. If this is not a climb-down, it is an extremely bumpy landing.

The swashbuckler who has relished his rebel outlier status has become too big a player to avoid playing by club rules. He has been forced by his own success to adjust the altimeter of his lofty tone and negotiate.

If humble pie is on the menu for Mr O'Leary many will feel he has got his just deserts. This has all the makings of a win for the pilots and passengers coming home for Christmas.

Irish Independent

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