O’Leary’s Unexpected Welcome in Brussels
Michael O’Leary, the Ryanair boss, faced a surprise at a press conference in Brussels when environment activists slapped him with two cream pies. As he prepared to address journalists and present a petition in response to the recent strike announcement by Ryanair pilots in Belgium, a woman approached him. She threw the pie at his face, exclaimed, “Welcome to Belgium,” and promptly exited the room.
“Stop the pollution from planes,” said the other activist as she smeared her pie on O’Leary’s head before both walked off.
Standing next to a cardboard cut-out of European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen during the incident, O’Leary responded to the activist with a simple “Well done.”
Nevertheless, O’Leary quickly regained his composure. Commenting on the unexpected event, he humorously told the gathered media, “I have never had such a warm welcome. Unfortunately it was environmentalists and the cream was artificial. I invite passengers to come to Ireland where the cream is better!”
Ryanair’s feed on X, formerly known as Twitter, later posted that O’Leary had received a “warm welcome in Brussels”. “Passengers so happy with our routes and petition that they’re celebrating with cake,” it said.
Ryanair’s Stance on the Recent Strikes
This pie-throwing incident came shortly after Ryanair pilots in Belgium declared another strike for September 14 and 15 over pay and working conditions. This strike marks their fourth in just two months. O’Leary informed the reporters, “In 2023, there have been a staggering 63 days of ATC strikes, a twelvefold increase compared to the previous year. These strikes have forced EU airlines to cancel thousands of EU overflights, affecting travellers from Germany, Spain, Italy, the UK, and Ireland.”
Furthermore, he expressed his frustration at the inaction of certain EU bodies, stating, “EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s inaction has allowed over 1.2 million EU travellers to endure last-minute flight cancellations, even when their flights do not involve France. It’s not acceptable that UK Nats simply allow their computer systems to be taken down and everybody’s flights get cancelled.”
In a light-hearted response to the day’s events, Ryanair shared a photo of O’Leary post-pie attack on their social media, captioning it, “Warm welcome in Brussels today to celebrate RYR’s 7 new routes for Winter 23. Passengers so happy with our routes and petition that they’re celebrating with cake. We’ve got tasty low fares!”
You can watch the video here: