Ryanair CEO in swimsuit protest

Michael O'Leary, CEO of budget airline Ryanair, has criticized a Swedish advertising watchdog for its claims that the company uses naked women as part of its marketing.

O’Leary challenged concerns that its annual calendar solely features scantily clad women by himself posing in a swimsuit for publicity photos on Tuesday:

“Ryanair has defended the right of girls (and boys) to strip off for charity with Michael O’Leary (also known as Miss Fly Free) donning ‘sexy’ swimwear to join cabin crew calendar stars Charlotte (Miss Wild) and Ingrid (Miss Mechanic),” the company said in a statement released to The Local on Tuesday.

The response from the airline came after comments made by Tobias Eltell, secretary for the Swedish Ethical Council against Sexism in Advertising (ERK), about his feelings on being sent the 2009 ‘Girls of Ryanair’ calendar last Friday.

On being told that the ERK had been marked out for a copy of the calendar, Eltell told The Local:

“It is sad for him that he doesn’t seem to understand the meaning of the council’s expression in this matter. He seems to think that naked girls and his air company have a connection.”

But Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary objected to the implication that Ryanair had used naked women for advertising purposes.

“Our cabin crew are all dressed in bikinis and we have never featured any naked pictures. This group are hopelessly out of touch with reality – next year we will commission a Girls in Burqas Calendar just for the politically correct thought police at the ERK,” said O’Leary.

Speaking to The Local, Eltell responded to O’Leary remarks:

“I really have nothing further to say on this issue. The ERK made an original comment regarding the advertising used by Ryanair and I discussed the calendar last week. That really should be the end of it.”

O’Leary supported his airline’s marketing choices by stating how, “we have the best looking cabin crew in Europe, over 700 of whom applied to take part in this year’s calendar and we continue to defend the rights of girls (and boys) to strip off for charity if they want to.”

“Loony groups like the various Institutes for Ugly Women are simply jealous of our good looking girls and just don’t understand that if we featured ugly blokes like me no one would buy our calendar and we would raise nothing for charity.”