Michael O'Leary: 'Holidays are a complete waste of time'

You live and you learn: The outspoken chief executive of Ryanair on why he's due a pay rise, why customers make him angry and why holidays are a waste of time.

by Elizabeth Anderson
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

I make mistakes almost on a daily basis. Getting a job in the airline industry would be one; qualifying as an accountant would be another. Failing to be good enough to play for Man City is probably the greatest.

I'm paid about 20 times more than the average employee and I think that gap should be wider. I probably work 50 times harder. I was paid 1.2m last year for carrying 80 million passengers. Aer Lingus's boss [Christoph Mueller] got 1.3m for carrying nine million passengers. I think I'm the most underpaid and underappreciated airline boss in Europe.

We're bidding again for Aer Lingus. In the six years Ryanair has had a 30% stake, Aer Lingus has lost 90m and the share price slobs along at 60 cents. We can run it better, but that's not setting the bar very high.

Recently a customer turned up at Alicante with no boarding passes for her family. She was fined 60 for each reissue. So she gets on 'the Twitter' to complain. Emboldened by the rising tide of support, Mrs McLeod asks for compensation, to which we replied politely but firmly, thank you, Mrs McLeod, but it was your fuck-up. We're not changing our policy.

Holidays are a complete waste of time. I do it because I have a wife and four children who insist that I have to go away every year otherwise they will be traumatised. I try to explain to them they'll be more traumatised having me there for two weeks. Of course I fly Ryanair, but it costs me a fortune in excess baggage.

Aviation needs a national policy. We need to build runways at existing airports to cope with increasing demand. But by the time we've gone through planning enquiries and public objections, I expect I'll be dead when Heathrow gets its third runway.

I'm not a big admirer of other businessmen. I prefer women. Anita Roddick was very successful, as is Jacqueline Gold at Ann Summers.

I'm probably unemployable, which is why a business as shitty as the airline industry is one where I can flourish. My wife would love me to retire. But she should be careful what she wishes for.

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

Reopening: Your duty is not to the economy, it’s to your staff

Managers are on shaky ground if they think they can decide for people what constitutes...

How COVID changes the world forever: A thought experiment

Silicon Valley ‘oracle’ Tim O’Reilly imagines how different sectors could emerge from the pandemic.

The CEO's guide to switching off

Too much hard work is counterproductive. Here four leaders share how they ease the pressure....

What Lego robots can teach us about motivating teams

People crave meaningful work, yet managers can so easily make it all seem futile.

What went wrong at Debenhams?

There are lessons in the high street store's sorry story.

How to find the right mentor or executive coach

One minute briefing: McDonald’s UK CEO Paul Pomroy.