Michael O’Leary lambasts Government for Flybe rescue

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has taken aim at everything from millennials to Muslims and the obese during an interview centred on the Government’s bailout of rival airline Flybe.

Mr O’Leary took Boris Johnson to task over the decision to rescue Flybe, with the 58-year-old questioning why taxpayers were left to foot the bill for a company owned by three of the industry’s richest billionaires.

Flybe is owned by Connect Airways, a consortium made up of Cyrus Capital Partners, Stobart Group and Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic – which itself is half-owned by US giant Delta Airlines.

“If Branson and Delta won’t put their hands in their pockets, why should the taxpayer?” Mr O’Leary told The Times.

While he admitted Ryanair was moving to address climate change, including spending £25 billion in the next eight years to update and make its fleet greener, Mr O’Leary believes the airline industry as a whole has been unfairly maligned on environmental issues.

2018 Cheltenham Festival – Champion Day – Cheltenham Racecourse
2018 Cheltenham Festival – Champion Day – Cheltenham Racecourse

Mr O’Leary pointed to broadcasters always showing vision of planes taking off when they want to illustrate the world heating up, even though “aviation only accounts for two per cent of CO2 emissions”.

When asked for his thoughts on another issue of concern to many millennials, gender fluidity, Mr O’Leary said it was only a matter of time until his male air stewards started wearing skirts.

“It’s the way of the world,” he said.

“We are Europe’s largest airline carrying many millions of millennials, so we have to pander to all that nonsense.”

An issue that is potentially of more concern to Mr O’Leary is obesity.


“If you have complete monsters you may need to buy two seats,” he said, “but we are not in Europe the way they are in North America, where it’s a huge issue.”

The Ryanair owner has already received criticism for some other comments made in the interview in which he called for Muslim men to be profiled at airports as a measure to prevent terrorism.

Labour MP Khalid Mahmood said Mr O’Leary was “encouraging racism”.

“If he can tell me what colour Muslims are then I’d be very happy to learn from him – you can’t judge a book by its cover,” he told the Times.