Days After Threatening to Punish Brexit Voters by Grounding Holiday Flights, Ryanair Changes Tune

Ryanair
AFP PHOTO

Days after abrasive Europhile airline boss Michael O’Leary announced his intention to force Brits to see the Brexit debate from his point of view by grounding his aircraft, the Ryanair chief of marketing has spoken out to confirm the company will not actually be deliberately sabotaging its own business out of spite over the EU membership vote.

Claiming the comments by the outspoken O’Leary had been “misreported” and that the airline would not be engaging in any stunts, Ryanair chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs told City A.M.: “We want both sides to do a deal and we support the British Government in doing a deal quickly so we know what’s happening. Then we can get on with making our contribution to what we think should be the replacement of open skies.”

Despite hundreds of flights departing the United Kingdom and flying to non-European Union member states around the world every day, Jacobs repeated the claim that Britain leaving the European Union could mean “open skies comes to a grinding halt on a specific date because negotiations fall apart and there is then a risk that aircraft can’t fly” and said consumers should be concerned.

Jacobs’ comments come after airline boss O’Leary blasted Brexit at a European airline summit on Tuesday and resolved to wield his corporate power to influence British politics, agreeing with the boss of German airline Lufthansa who said a bit of flight disruption could be used by airlines to show Brits they were, in O’Leary’s words, “lied to in the entire Brexit debate”, and “that might be a good thing”.

O’Leary said it was a “good idea” to “use the industry” to change people’s minds after the democratic vote. “I think it’s in our interests – not for a long period of time – that the aircraft are grounded,” the Irish business tycoon said.

But not all airlines in Europe agree with his position. Ryanair rival Easyjet said they would keep flying if the deliberate grounding of flights went ahead, while British Airways boss Willie Walsh said of the coming Brexit settlement: “I am completely relaxed… There will be a comprehensive Open Skies agreement. Anybody who doesn’t believe that is living in cloud-cuckoo land,” reports the Financial Times.

Confident of his own role in using the airline industry to cement pan-Europeanism and the position of the European Union in the hearts and minds of voters, O’Leary had said in 2011: “Ryanair is responsible for the integration of Europe by bringing lots of different cultures to the beaches of Spain, Greece and Italy, where they couple and copulate in the interests of pan-European peace.”

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