Airline CEO gets pie shoved in his face

Airline CEO gets pie shoved in his face

The boss of Irish budget airline Ryanair has had a pie shoved into his face.

Michael O’Leary was lashed with a cream pie to the face and the back of his head during his latest EU visit but retorted, “This is the warmest welcome I’ve ever received in Belgium.”

The outspoken chief executive, 62, was on his way to deliver his “Protect Overflights: Keep EU Skies Open” petition to EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s office in Brussels when activists made their move, The Sun reports.

One of the activists told Mr O’Leary “welcome in Belgium” as she planted her pie.

And the other activist fumed “stop the pollution from planes” as she smeared her pastry on the Ryanair chief before the pair walked off.

Mr O’Leary laughed off the stunt and asked an assistant to take his soiled jacket away to be cleaned.

“Unfortunately it was environmentalists and the cream was artificial,” he said. “I invite passengers to come to Ireland where the cream is better!”

Mr O’Leary later jetted to Malta, where he claimed the stunt had caused a surge in bookings.

“I think generally it’s great. It generated more free publicity,” he said.

“There’s been a surge in bookings on the Ryanair website all afternoon. If me taking a cream pie delivers us a lot more bookings over the next couple of days I will happily take one.”

And he said future pie throwers should opt for fresh cream or even chocolate cake.

“I think the problem is that climate activists are not very bright and don’t understand the subject terribly well,” he said.

“We’re the greenest airline in Europe, spending billions of dollars on very efficient new aircraft.”

Ryanair were quick to make light of the incident on social media, posting, “Warm welcome in Brussels today to celebrate RYR’s 7 new routes for Winter 23. Passengers so happy with our routes and petition that they’re celebrating with cake. We’ve got tasty low fares!”

It added, “Instead of buying cream pies, could have bought a flight from Belgium for the same price.”

Another post said, “Shame it was soy-based cream, definitely not as tasty as the real stuff.”

Strike hell

Mr O’Leary was straight back to business as he fumed over the impact of air traffic control strikes on passengers.

He’s calling for the European Union to stop preventing airlines from flying over countries – even if they are not landing in them – during local air traffic control strikes.

This rule has caused widespread disruption to flights this year, particularly due to ATC strikes in France.

“In 2023, there have been a staggering 63 days of ATC strikes, a twelvefold increase compared to the previous year,” Mr O’Leary said.

“These strikes have forced EU airlines to cancel thousands of EU overflights, affecting travellers from Germany, Spain, Italy, the UK, and Ireland.

“In contrast, France has implemented Minimum Service Laws to protect its domestic and short-haul flights, exacerbating the inconvenience faced by EU passengers.

“EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s inaction has allowed over 1.2 million EU travellers to endure last-minute flight cancellations, even when their flights do not involve France.”

He previously raged, “It’s not acceptable that UK Nats simply allow their computer systems to be taken down and everybody’s flights get cancelled.”

The activists’ pie protest came as Ryanair pilots in Belgium announced a new strike on September 14 and 15 – their fourth stoppage in two months – over pay and working conditions.

Pilots have demanded “an immediate end to the blackmail carried out by the company to correlate the negotiation of a new collective work agreement with the abandonment of all individual legal procedures in progress”.

This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission