MICHAEL O’Leary, the famously lippy boss of Ryanair, guards his mouth more than he used to. Not difficult, perhaps, for the man who once said: “Germans will crawl bollock-naked over broken glass to get low fares.”
Tact is not his thing, although he can he self-aware – but perhaps only in the way that Donald Trump is aware of himself all the time, and aware only of himself.
Here’s another bit of O’Leary scripture – “Do we carry rich people on our flights? Yes, I flew on one this morning and I’m very rich.”
You could fill a page and then a few more with his bon mots, and mots not so bon, but here is just one more from his back pages: “If drink sales are falling off, we get the pilots to engineer a bit of turbulence. That usually spikes sales.”
Not a comforting thought as we are setting off on a very long flight on Sunday, but luckily Ryanair doesn’t go that far. Anyway, we’ve been advised to skip the alcohol and the coffee, so the hours will be stretched.
Mostly these days O’Leary keeps his hand over his mouth, but the prospect of Brexit buggering up his budget airline has seen him remove that hand – not to unleash the full Irish vernacular, but to make a reasonable point in a colourful manner.
The Ryanair boss is worried that Brexit uncertainty could hit his business, as airline schedules and flight bookings are arranged nearly a year in advance. He says that Ryanair needs to be sure of its legal position by this time next year to start selling flights for March 2019, when Brexit begins (that’s if it ever begins or indeed ever ends, and there’s the Brexit Paradox for you).
The colourful part came when he criticised Mrs Maybe on Sky News, saying: “I fail to see what she’s doing in Japan for three days at the moment, why’s she not in Brussels or in Frankfurt or in Paris, which is where these negotiations need to take place.”
He added that Theresa May had just come back from three weeks’ holiday in the Swiss Alps and that she needed to be sorting out Brexit, “not swanning around Japan drinking tea and sake”.
O’Leary has a point here. Mrs Maybe swanned around Japan in the hope of drumming up post-Brexit business – but that can’t begin until Brexit has been sorted out. Why didn’t she forsake the sake and help to sort out Brexit first? Because swanning about is easier and probably more fun, and conjures a cake-and-eat-it illusion that everything will be crumbly and delicious once we leave Europe and instead go knocking on doors around the globe, like door-to-door salesmen in poor suits and with shifting smiles.
But I have preparations to make, two days’ work left to do, and other work to do for when I return, so that’s your lot for now. I plan to take my laptop ledge with me and will report in from Australia occasionally.