Michael O’Leary compares ministers on Brexit to ‘Dad’s Army’

Ryanair boss says UK is about to ‘walk off a cliff’ by leaving the EU

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary: “It was exactly what we expected, politicians making lots of warm noises but no specifics”

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary: “It was exactly what we expected, politicians making lots of warm noises but no specifics”

 

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has compared British government ministers to the characters of television sitcom Dad’s Army due to their “lunatic optimism” over Brexit. He claimed the UK was about to “walk off a cliff” by leaving the EU.

Mr O’Leary announced this month that Ryanair had cut its growth plans in the UK next year from 12 per cent to 5 per cent because of uncertainty over Brexit.

Asked what the low-cost airline would do if his expectations about the impact of the UK withdrawing from the EU turn out to be overly pessimistic, Mr O’Leary replied: “If we get it wrong I’m sure we’ll come charging back into the UK with more aircraft and airports doing lower cost deals.

“But, frankly, there’s very little evidence apart from some mildly lunatic optimism over here that it will be all right on the night.

“It’s like Dad’s Army going off to war here. It’ll be all right, Sgt Jones. You’ll just keep plodding along.

“These guys have no idea where they’re going for the next two years, and the problem is that in the absence of any discussions with the Europeans on Brexit they’re all talking to themselves.

“They stand up in the Houses of Parliament [and say]: ‘we’re going to do a good deal for Britain.’ Any idea what a good deal looks like? No, they haven’t a clue.

“The UK is going to walk itself off a cliff unless somebody in the Tory party comes up with a bright idea.”

UK carriers

Brexit secretary David Davis and aviation minister Lord Ahmad chaired a meeting at London City Airport last week to discuss Brexit with industry leaders, including representatives from Ryanair, EasyJet, Heathrow Airport and Virgin Atlantic.

Following the event, the British government issued a statement to declare that maintaining “liberal access” to European aviation markets would be a “top priority” when the UK negotiates its exit from the EU.

However, speaking at the annual conference of the Airport Operators Association in west London, Mr O’Leary claimed ministers were giving similar assurances to many industries.

Warm noises

According to the department for exiting the EU, the UK has the “largest aviation network in Europe”, handling more than 250 million passengers and 2.3 million tonnes of cargo last year, with connections to more than 370 international destinations. - PA

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