Michael O'Leary (businessman)

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Michael O'Leary
Michaeloleary.jpg
O'Leary in 2011
Born Michael Kevin O'Leary[1]
(1961-03-20) 20 March 1961 (age 53)
Mullingar, County Westmeath, Republic of Ireland
Residence Delvin, County Westmeath
Nationality Irish
Education Clongowes Wood College
Alma mater Trinity College, Dublin
Occupation Businessman
Known for Chief executive officer of Ryanair
Spouse(s) Anita Farrell
Children 4
Parents Ted and Ger O'Leary

Michael Kevin O'Leary is an Irish businessman and the chief executive officer of the Irish airline Ryanair. He is one of Ireland's wealthiest businessmen.[2]

Early life[edit]

Michael O'Leary was born 20 March 1961, the second in a family of six, in Kanturk in County Cork.[3] He was educated at Clongowes Wood College, County Kildare. In 1979 he began a four-year Bachelor in Economic and Social Studies programme at Trinity College Dublin. He graduated from Trinity and then worked as a trainee with Stokes Kennedy Crowley (later known as KPMG), studying the Irish tax system. He left after two years in 1985, setting up profitable newsagents in Walkinstown and Terenure, Dublin.

While at Stokes Kennedy Crowley, O'Leary met Tony Ryan, head of GPA (Guinness Peat Aviation, a leasing company). Ryan was one of the firm's clients and O'Leary advised Ryan on his personal income tax affairs. In 1987, he then hired O'Leary as his personal financial and tax advisor, where Ryan's main interest was in GPA. Ryanair was established around this time and originally followed a traditional business model, but quickly began to lose money. Subsequently O'Leary was sent to the USA to study the novel Southwest Airlines business model.

Ryanair career[edit]

O'Leary was deputy chief executive of Ryanair between 1991 and 1994 and was promoted to chief executive of Ryanair in January 1994. Under O'Leary's management, Ryanair further developed the low-cost model originated by Southwest Airlines.[4] O'Leary may have described the inauguration of the ancillary revenue movement during a 2001 interview in The Sunday Times.[5] "The other airlines are asking how they can put up fares. We are asking how we could get rid of them." The business model envisioned by O'Leary uses receipts from on board shopping, internet gaming, car hire and hotel bookings to replace the ticket revenue from selling airline seats. Savings are also made by negotiating discounts with airports for reduced landing fees. In many cases, regional airports have made no charges so as to secure flights that bring passengers and wealth into their area.

The deregulation of Ireland's major airports and a transformation of traditional full-service airlines are among his demands.[6][7]

He claims he was approached to front the BBC's version of The Apprentice but declined as it was "too much of a distraction".[8]

Controversy and reputation[edit]

O'Leary has a reputation for loose talk in the airline industry and among its regulators. Many press articles have often described him as arrogant, and prone to making comments which he later contradicts.[9][10][11][12][13][14] He has been extravagantly outspoken in his public statements, sometimes resorting to personal attacks and foul language.[15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23][24] His abrasive management style, ruthless pursuit of cost-cutting and his explicitly hostile attitude towards corporate competitors, airport authorities, governments, unions and customers has become a hallmark.[25] He was reported to have been aggressive and hostile in dealings with a woman who was awarded free flights for life in 1988.[26][27] In 2007, he was forced to retract a claim that Ryanair had cut emissions of carbon dioxide by half over the previous five years; the claim should have been that emissions 'per passenger' had been cut by half.[28] O'Leary has been reported to have impersonated a journalist in an attempt to find information passed on to a newspaper following a safety incident on a Ryanair flight.[29] On occasion he has apologised for personal attacks under threat of legal action.[30] He has been criticized by a judge for lying, who said he was lucky not to be found guilty of contempt of court.[31]

In a press conference discussing Ryanair's planned intercontinental service RyanAtlantic, O'Leary jokingly described the airline's planned business class travel experience as featuring "whores and rum".[32] In 2002 he said that his company is against any long-haul transatlantic services, stating that:

The low-cost model only really works for short-haul flights [...] If we started flying farther afield, we'd have to do something stupid like introducing what I call a 'rich class' to make it pay.[33]

However more than decade later, in 2013 he said, while at the Paris Air Show, that he wants to sell cheap flights from the U.S. to Europe for as low as 10 euros ($13) or $10, if conditions are right. He said that he needs a fleet of at least 30 twin-aisle aircraft and access to ports(e.g. major U.S. and European cities, in airplane industry there are so called slots or sometimes gates, often regulated by law, and without obtaining them it is impossible to have regular service to airports). Despite his claims in 2002, there were so called budget airliners in past – for example Laker Airways flights from London to New York in the late 1970s or long-hauls at budget-fares on other continents like AirAsiaX in Malaysia and Australian Jetstar Group.[34]

Reacting to the decision to close European airspace in April 2010 over worries about the ash plume from an erupting Icelandic volcano he said "there was no ash cloud. It was mythical. It's become evident the airspace closure was completely unnecessary." Scientists later concluded that serious structural damage to aircraft could have occurred if passenger planes had continued to fly.[35]

Registration of private car as taxi[edit]

Michael O'Leary's personal Mercedes-Benz S500, operated by O'Leary Cabs and complete with "for hire" roof bar

In 2004 he purchased a taxi plate for his Mercedes-Benz S-Class, to enable it to be classified as a taxi so that he could legally make use of Dublin's bus lanes to speed up his car journeys around the city.[18] A press report suggested that since he was stopped driving his own taxi, he has employed a driver with full PSV licence. In 2005 the Irish transport minister expressed concern at this abuse by O'Leary and others.[36][37]

Personal life[edit]

O'Leary lives in Gigginstown House near Delvin in County Westmeath. He married Anita Farrell in 2003, and they have 4 children.[38]

He breeds Aberdeen Angus cattle and horses at his Gigginstown House Stud[39] in County Westmeath. In 2006, his horse War of Attrition won the Cheltenham Gold Cup.[40] O'Leary has also been a Manchester City supporter since a young age and notably wore a Manchester City shirt when unveiling Ryanair's new destinations to and from Manchester Airport in 2011.[41]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "People: Ryanair Holdings PLC (RYAAY.O) – O'Leary, Michael". Reuters.com. 
  2. ^ "Rich list". The Times (London). Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  3. ^ "Information on "Facebook"". Facebook.com. 20 March 1961. Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  4. ^ By Matthew Maier, Business 2.0 Magazine staff writer (31 March 2006). "A radical Fix for Airlines: Make Flying Free, '''Forbes''', 1 April 2006". Money.cnn.com. Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  5. ^ "Flying for Free on Ryanair", 13 May 2001, BBC News
  6. ^ RTÉ radio 10 February 2007, in "Conversations with Eamon Dunphy"
  7. ^ Irish Post: Ryanair chief hints of possible departure
  8. ^ Byrne, Cormac (30 November 2009). "How Mick told Marian (on her own show) that he'd chop her holidays". Evening Herald. Retrieved 2009-12-22. 
  9. ^ ZEIT ONLINE GmbH, Hamburg, Germany. "Die Festung wankt: Europas mächtige Wettbewerbshüter verurteilen Microsoft und stoppen Fusionen. Geschwächt von Pannen, geraten sie jetzt in den Machtkampf um die Besetzung der EU-Kommission. Eine Innenansicht Von Arne Storn | ZEIT online". Zeit.de. Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  10. ^ ePolitix.com – Ryanair slams air passenger duty
  11. ^ Auteur: Helena WILMET. "Het Nieuwsblad – Ryanair-topman Michael O'Leary schudde luchtvaartwereld wakker". Nieuwsblad.be. Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  12. ^ British GQ 10 Things To Know Today[dead link]
  13. ^ "Ryanair's anti-Ahern campaign gets the thumbs-down from PR industry: ThePost.ie". Archives.tcm.ie. 6 July 2003. Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  14. ^ "NTR | Home". Rvu.nl. Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  15. ^ Family fun (8 April 2008). "Iron Mike fires last round at war-weary Taoiseach – National News, Frontpage". Independent.ie. Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  16. ^ Vallely, Paul (7 October 2006). "Michael O'Leary: Plane crazy". The Independent (London). Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  17. ^ Aldrick, Philip (5 October 2006). "O'Leary: the man and the mouth". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  18. ^ a b Clark, Andrew (24 June 2005). "The Guardian profile: Michael O'Leary". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  19. ^ Kundnani, Hans (6 October 2006). "Michael O'Leary: Stunt pilot whose enemies would love to see him crash". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  20. ^ Asthana, Anushka (20 June 2006). "When I stuff BA Ill quit". The Times (London). Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  21. ^ "Boeing Frontiers Online". Boeing.com. Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  22. ^ "Snarling all the way to the bank". The Economist. 23 August 2007. 
  23. ^ How to wear: (29 November 2007). "Taking the flight fight to Ryanair – Irish, Business". Independent.ie. Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  24. ^ Walsh, Fiona (4 February 2008). "Ryanair warns high oil prices could slash its profits by 50% next year". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  25. ^ "War in Irish skies". Belfasttelegraph.co.uk. 4 August 2008. Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  26. ^ “Woman claims Ryanair reneged on free travel prize”, 28 February 2002, at RTE Business; last accessed 18 December 2006.
  27. ^ Sage, Mark (20 June 2002). "Ryanair ordered to pay damages for reneging on 'free flights' offer to millionth customer". The Independent (London). Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  28. ^ “Ryanair retracts emissions claim”, 29 January 2007, at news.bbc.co.uk; last accessed 19 March 2010.
  29. ^ Duggan, Barry (18 November 2010). "Ryanair staff were menacing: passenger – National News, Frontpage – Independent.ie". Unison.ie. Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  30. ^ "Sat, May 08, 2010 – O'Leary in court apology to union official". The Irish Times. 5 May 2010. Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  31. ^ "Judge criticises Michael O'Leary for lying – RTÉ News". Rte.ie. 26 March 2010. Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  32. ^ "Free Oral Sex to Business Class Customers on Ryanair says CEO". LiveLeak.com. Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  33. ^ Bridge, Adrian (2 April 2002). "Eindhoven: haven't you always wanted to go?". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  34. ^ http://www.ibtimes.com/ryanair-wants-launch-flights-between-us-europe-aims-jump-growth-rate-will-return-13-billion-1315549
  35. ^ Cool pools (26 April 2011). "Steve Connor: Airspace closure due to ash cloud fears 'was right move' – Analysis, Opinion". Independent.ie. Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  36. ^ Henderson, Deric (18 November 2010). "News Ireland | Irish News Paper | Free News Stories Online from The Irish Independent Newspaper – Independent.ie". Unison.ie. Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  37. ^ "Ireland Taxi Ireland Hackney cab Irish Taxi chauffeur transport". Taxi.ie. Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  38. ^ "Michael O'Leary: 'I don't understand the point of holidays'". Irish Independent. 16 January 2010. Retrieved 12 May 2013. 
  39. ^ 2006 "Cheltenham Gold Cup, 16 March 2006". 
  40. ^ Simon Calder (18 August 2006). "Profile: Michael O'Leary". BBC News. Retrieved 4 June 2009. 
  41. ^ "Ryanair chief Michael O'Leary announces 26 routes from Manchester Airport which could create up to 2,000 jobs". Manchester Evening News. 12 July 2011. Retrieved 12 July 2011. 

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