The Spectacle Blog

RyanAir CEO Slams EU at EU Innovation Summit

By on 12.19.11 | 3:46PM

Politicians and bureaucrats in the European Union were treated to a verbal lashing for their cronyism and anti-entrepreneurism by Michael O'Leary, CEO of airline RyanAir, at a conference held by the EU on "innovation."

The CEO started his remarks tearing down the European ruling class for protecting inefficient airlines that charge too much money for useless services. For this speech to come from someone in Europe, let alone at a summit at the EU, is a conservative dream.

Here is a transcript of the first few minutes of O'Leary's John Galt speech (video below):

This is the first time I think that I or RyanAir have ever been invited to a conference by the European Union. Because as most of you know, the European Union spends most of its time suing me, torturing me, criticizing me or condeming me for lowering the cost of air travel all over Europe and making life so really difficult for their favorite airlines, which as we all know like high-fare airlines, like Air France, British Airlines, and Lufthansa who must be protected at all costs because they're the future of Europe -- the future of europe lies in people being forced to pay 800 euros for one-hour flights across the continent; the future of Europe lies in people being forced to pay fuel surcharges for the right to travel on Europe's best airlines run by the Germans, the French, and the British.

Well, sorry we like to disagree... which is why a conference on innovation is so important.

... If you look at the mess Europe is in, if you look at the mess that the European economy is in, there's only one way out of it.

And it's not going to be a summit of European politicians.

It's certainly not going to be a conference held in Brussels, where the last innovative idea came in 1922, I think.

Innovation is going to be the way for the European economy to grow, to develop, to create new jobs and that's why I think it's so important we have four young people.

I'm kind of a little bit nervous that we've brought them to Brussels where I'm afraid that their innovative streak, or their spark of innovation, might be dulled by a long lunch, an afternoon sleep, followed by an early finish, and then they'd all become -- God help us -- politicians or bureaucrats in Brussels and therefore do nothing to add to the sum of human kind.

So I urge you as quickly as you possibly can: Get the hell out of Brussels.

Go back to your countries, and stay away from here as much as is humanly possible. Because Brussels, those of you who know the Star Wars Trilogy, this is the evil empire. The Berlaymont is the Death Star, where any hint of innovation is left at the door as you walk in to meet with bureaucrats and politicians, who you can always tell when they're telling lies because their lips are moving.

For the rest of his speech, he explains how he was able to innovate RyanAir into being one of the most popular carriers in Europe by cutting costs and services to keep fares low. They also don't invest in PR firms or marketing gimmicks.

And, in O'Leary's own words: "We don't have strikes." In fact, earlier this year, O'Leary controversially demanded that striking air traffic controllers be fired as part of an EU ban on strikes, similar to President Reagan's response to an air traffic control strike in 1981. Over 2.5 million passengers' plans were disrupted by the strikes that had O'Leary fuming.

When O'Leary completes his remarks, the EU representative who is moderating the discussion attempts to suggest that the E.U.'s efforts to deregulate the air travel industry were to credit for RyanAir's success. O'Leary patly replies, "Nope, but it was 30 years ago, and we haven't innovated since."

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