Swedish consumer group ‘a bunch of idiots’: Ryanair CEO

Outspoken Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary slammed a Swedish consumer rights group on Tuesday, adding that the discount airline has not yet ruled out requiring passengers to pay to use the toilet while in the air.

Swedish consumer group 'a bunch of idiots': Ryanair CEO

At a press conference in Stockholm, O’Leary explained that free toilets are a drain on Ryanair’s bottom line.

“They don’t generate any money,” he said, according to the E24 business news website.

“We don’t want the money either, but are interested in using the toilet space for extra seats in the plane…we have to think differently if we’re going to keep our prices low.”

O’Leary likened charging for a trip to the bathroom to charging for checked baggage, arguing that passengers may be happy to relieve themselves in airports prior to boarding if they knew it would save them some money.

The Ryanair CEO also had choice words for Sweden’s National Board for Consumer Complaints (Allmänna reklamationsnämnden – ARN) in the wake of a recent decision by the agency against the airline.

“ARN are a bunch of idiots who refuse to follow EU regulations,” said O’Leary, according to the TT news agency.

The criticism comes after ARN ordered Ryanair to pay a family 11,000 kronor ($1,600) in compensation after they were left on the ground in Gothenburg in April.

The family and several other passengers were waiting for their flight to London at Gothenburg City Airport, Ryanair’s normal port of call in Gothenburg. But due to bad weather, the plane instead landed nearly 40 kilometres away at Landvetter airport.

While officials at Gothenburg City Airport were willing to transport passengers to Landvetter to board the flight, Ryanair refused to cover the costs, according to the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper.

The plane eventually departed for London from Landvetter, but without any passengers onboard.

While Ryanair agreed to cover the 5,000 kronor cost of the family’s airfare, the airline refused to compensate them for football tickets and hotel bookings in London which went unused because of the missed flight.

According to ARN, the airline failed to do enough to avoid causing the family economic harm by not purchasing flights for them on another airline – a line of reasoning with which O’Leary doesn’t agree.

“We think ARN is wrong and is misleading Swedish consumers. We’re not playing a PR game, we actually compensated people. We couldn’t care less if it hurts us or not because ARN is wrong,” he said, according to E24.

“66 million passengers can’t be wrong.”

O’Leary added that Ryanair is currently in discussions with airports in Gothenburg and Skavsta, south of Stockholm, about adding five or six new routes to destinations in France, Italy, and Spain some time next year.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Ryanair flights grounded as pilots strike

Ryanair's pilots in Sweden went on strike on August 10th, with several flights cancelled at Skavsta.

Ryanair flights grounded as pilots strike
Ryanair flights cancelled on Friday at Skavsta Airport. Photo: Stina Stjernkvist/TT

Pilots in Ireland, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands also joined the 24-hour strike over demands for a collective labour agreement and better working conditions and representation.

In Sweden, around 40 Ryanair pilots were striking until midnight between Friday and Saturday.

“Today our members are on strike to demand their rights. For decades Ryanair has refused their employees basic labour rights most employees on the labour market take for granted, but here a strike is necessary to show the airline that it no longer can avoid treating its employees in a dignified manner,” Martin Lindgren, President of the Swedish Pilots' Union, said in a statement.

Twenty-two flights which were due to depart or travel to Skavsta Airport south of Stockholm on Friday.

The airport usually welcomes around 700 travellers for the first few departures of the day, but on Friday morning the building was almost completely empty, news agency TT reported.

“We want to again apologize to customers affected by this unnecessary disruption and we ask the striking unions to continue negotiations instead of calling anymore unjustified strikes,” tweeted Ryanair.

Compensation can be claimed for some cancelled flights but it varies and depends on how much information was given in advance. For journeys under 1500km a maximum of €250 can be claimed (or €400 for flights between 1500 and 3,000km), but in the event that the airline directly warned passengers of their flight cancellation with 15 days' notice, there is no right to request economic compensation. More information can be found here