Ryanair boss O'Leary: I'm underpaid and unappreciated

Oct 3, 2012

No-frills airline CEO bemoans his £1m salary and rails against 'the Twitter' and his customers

Getty Images

RYANAIR BOSS Michael O'Leary has entered the debate on executive pay in pugnacious fashion, telling Management Today that his annual salary of £1m (€1.2m) made him the "most underpaid and underappreciated airline boss in Europe".

While most millionaire bosses across the Western world have donned their helmets and are sheltering in the trenches from the backlash against the excesses of the corporate elite, O'Leary is at least refreshing in his refusal to bow to public opinion.

"I'm paid about 20 times more than the average employee and I think that gap should be wider," the 51-year-old Irishman said. "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."

In addition to riling his entire workforce with his appraisal of their relative contribution to the company, O'Leary then goes on to attempt to alienate the customers of his no-frills airline who help to pay his criminally low wages.

"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," O'Leary explains.

"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 f***-up. We're not changing our policy."

Of course, it's not the first time that O'Leary - a man so given to seeking self-publicity that he makes Donald Trump look like a Trappist monk - has used a media interview to extol the virtues of himself and his airline - or attack critics - in such salty language.

In 2008 he said the business class on his proposed transatlantic service would feature "free beds and blowjobs", has described airport operator BAA as "overcharging rapists" and contributed a book jacket quote for a biography of himself that ran: "Business books are bullshit and are usually written by wankers."

Sign up for our daily newsletter