Today’s interview is with Michael O’Leary, Chief Executive of Ryanair, a European low-cost airline, headquartered in Dublin, Ireland. Ryanair is also the largest European airline by scheduled passengers carried and also the busiest international airline by passenger numbers. Michael joins me today after he responded to a recent article I wrote (Does Michael O’Leary Really Care About Ryanair’s Customers, Or Is He Just Being Pragmatic?) but also to talk about humility, Herb Kelleher, bourbon and starting to listening to and being nicer to customers.
This interview follows on from my recent interview: Customer feedback is the most effective way of improving the financial performance of a business – Interview with Guy Letts of CustomerSure – and is number 144 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, helping businesses innovate and delivering great service and experience to their customers.
Highlights of my interview with Michael:
About Michael (this bio (below) was taken from Michael’s bio on Ryanair’s corporate investor page – I’m not kidding – although it now seems to have been updated but I like this one better)
Born, at Christmas, in a stable in 1961, he was a boy genius, who excelled both academically and in sports. Having represented Ireland at bog snorkelling and flower arranging, he graduated from Trinity College in Dublin as soon as they could get rid of him. He became another boring KPMG accountant until divine inspiration sentenced him to lifelong servitude in the airline business, as he is manifestly unsuitable for employment in any properly functioning industry.
Despite his best efforts, Ryanair is Europe’s favourite airline carrying over 89m customers this year at Europe’s lowest fares (saving them over €10 billion annually), with great customer service including the most on-time flights of any major airline. Ryanair operates more than 1,600 low fare routes from 71 bases across 30 countries, connecting 183 destinations with a fleet of 300 new Boeing 737-800 aircraft. Ryanair has recently placed orders for up to 380 new Boeing 737 aircraft, which should allow it to double in size to carry over 150m customers annually by 2024. Ryanair currently employs a team of 9,500 leading aviation professionals each of whom are dedicated to extending Ryanair’s industry leading 30-year safety record.
Bearing a remarkable resemblance to George Clooney’s younger brother, it is widely reported that most women find him (sadly) resistible!!