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Michael O’Leary gets a new 5-year contract

 

Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary will remain for another five years, after the company overhauled its corporate structure and gave its longtime leader a new contract.

Europe’s biggest airline by passengers said Monday it will move to a group structure called Ryanair Holdings PLC. O’Leary will be CEO, agreeing to a new contract through July 2024.

Ryanair Holdings will oversee the main Ryanair carrier, subsidiaries based in Poland and the U.K. as well as the recently acquired Austrian unit Laudamotion.

There had been questions over O’Leary’s future as his contract was due to end this year.

The announcement came as the company reported a net loss of 20 million euros ($23 million) for its fiscal third quarter, compared with a 106 million profit the year before, due to lower fares.

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O’Leary has long been a controversial figure for the European low-cost giant.

He’s made numerous provocative comments while at the helm of Ryanair, including regularly raising the possibility of charging fliers to use lavatories during flights. He’s also publicly lashed out at passengers in the past when they’ve complained about the carrier’s myriad fees.

“We have been needlessly irritating people, from our creaking old website to our interrogation of passengers over the size of their purses,” O’Leary told The Associated Press during a 2014 interview that was part of a then-new initiative to remake Ryanair into a kinder, gentler version of itself. “For 20-odd years, our focus has been to stack the product high and sell it cheap. We’re still going to do that, but we’re going to let the customer relax in the process.”

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It was just a year earlier that O’Leary was forced to tell shareholders “We should try to eliminate things that unnecessarily piss people off.” AP noted that those comments in 2013 came at an annual general meeting “during which Ryanair’s chief faced questions on why the airline seemingly went out of its way to be rude and dismissive of criticism.”

Underscoring O’Leary’s bombastic tendencies, The Guardian of London went so far as to publish a list of the CEO’s “33 daftest quotes” in 2013 . 

Among them, O’Leary had this to say about customers who complained about being hit with a 60-euro fee (about $68, at today’s rates) after forgetting to print their boarding passes prior to heading to the airport: “We think they should pay €60 for being so stupid.”

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Another on general complaints involving refunds: “You’re not getting a refund so (expletive) off. We don’t want to hear your sob stories. What part of ‘no refund’ don’t you understand?”

Since 2014, however, O’Leary has mostly toned down the rhetoric since Ryanair’s attempt at an image makeover.

Material from The Associated Press was used in this report. Contributing: Ben Mutzabaugh, USA TODAY.

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Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/flights/todayinthesky/2019/02/04/ryanair-ceo-michael-oleary-gets-new-5-year-contract/2766165002/


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