The Greek people have “elected a bunch of lunatics,” according to Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary. The entrepreneur’s budget airline has invested heavily in routes to Greece, flying into eight airports across the country and its islands, and the company is currently growing strongly in the popular tourist destination, the Irish Examiner has reported.
Ryanair is currently in talks with the Greek government about carrying passengers free of charge on Greek domestic flights for the next two weeks, as people are currently unable to use credit cards to book flights, thanks to the ongoing financial crisis affecting the country.
Mr O’Leary said that he thinks the situation is “a tragedy”, but has called the Greek government “lunatics.” He added that he hopes the country will get away from austerity soon.
“We’re one of the largest investors in Greece at the moment, we’re one of the few European companies that’s actually growing strongly in Greece,” he said.
“The difficulty we have in Greece, particularly on domestic flights, is that people don’t have credit cards, they’re not able to make payments.
“I mean, we’re actually talking to the Greek government today about carrying people for free for the next two weeks on some of the domestic routes.
“The Greek situation is a tragedy, but, you know, the difficulty for the Greeks is that they’ve elected a bunch of lunatics.”
Speaking of the Greek economy, O’ Leary told Newstalk’s The Right Hook: “There is a fundamental problem in Greece that 52 per cent of households in Greece depend on pensions as their main source of income but only 11 per cent of Greek people pay tax.’
“Now that’s a circle you’re never going to close, more Greeks have to pay tax, you have to close off the black market and less Greeks have to be able to live off pensions….You can’t have an economy that functions that way,” he added.
“More people have to be productive, yes elderly people and young people need help. If you are of a working age, go out and work…You can’t be bloody retiring, sitting in a cafe drinking coffee and expecting the Germans or the Irish or the Portuguese to pay for you,” he went on to say.
Greek ministers are currently racing to put together a proposal to take to their creditors tomorrow morning, or risk being ejected from the Euro. Creditors will review their proposal, which are expected to include tax and pension reforms, ahead of a meeting scheduled for Sunday.