Ryanair boss says swine flu only a risk for ‘slumdwellers’

The outspoken head of the Irish budget airline Ryanair has dismissed apocalyptic warnings of a global swine flu pandemic, saying that the virus was only a risk to Asians and Mexicans “living in slums”.

Michael O’Leary, who pioneered the 1p fares which transformed European aviation, told a press conference that he did not think the virus that is thought to have killed around 150 people in Mexico would wipe out his firm’s business this summer despite UN warnings of a pandemic.

“Are we going to die from swine flu? No. Are we in danger of SARS? No. Foot and mouth disease? No. Will it affect people flying short-haul flights around Europe this summer? Thankfully, no,” Mr O’Leary said.

He added: “It is a tragedy only for people living … in slums in Asia or Mexico. But will the honeymoon couple from Edinburgh die? No. A couple of Strepsils will do the job.”

So far only two swine flu cases have been confirmed in Britain, a couple who returned from their honeymoon in Cancun last week and took ill at the weekend. Iain and Dawn Askham of Polmont, near Falkirk in Scotland, are said to be responding well to treatment with anti-viral drugs at an isolation ward in Lanarkshire.

Curiously, there have been no deaths from the virus outside Mexico and doctors have been unable to explain the high level of mortality in the country.

Mr O’Leary has been accused by his critics of doing anything for publicity and recently caused an uproar by suggesting that Ryanair might charge passengers to use toilets on its flights. The airline does not operate flights to Mexico.


2 thoughts on “Ryanair boss says swine flu only a risk for ‘slumdwellers’

  1. Dear ?

    Feel free to delete this comment, as this would have been an email, if you’d provided an address – or a name.

    I like this blog for its informed and measured tone, as opposed to the completely understandable frothing at the mouth tone in which most people write about their experiences with Ryanair.

    I am a frequent-flying consultant with a commitment to keeping my clients’ costs down. Fortunately I don’t often travel Ryanair these days, but when I do, I can’t sleep the night before and seem to have acquired some sort of Ryanair-induced PTSD complete with flash-backs of my more horrible travel moments.

    I am a cartoonist and have been planning a strip devoted to the Ryanair experience. The title would feature the word “Purgatory,” and an idea I had this morning for a detail of a frame was this: a Ryanair holiday destinations advert with the slogan: “Start Your Holiday As You Mean To Go On: Hating Everybody, Wishing You’d Stayed At Home, Twice As Exhausted As When You Left.”

    There are a few things in this life that fill me with impotent rage: world hunger, the state of the environment, and Ryanair. I am writing to ask you to “come out” and declare who you are and what your mission is, and if it happens to be along the lines of “the downfall of Ryanair,” whether I can come too.

    All the best,


  2. Words will never harm the heinous Ryanair, but stick and stones…..? I had a day dream that 200 Ryanair haters ( 0.0001% of total) booked on the same flight. On arrival at our destination, we refused to get off. The plane was grounded for more than 10 hours as the airline grappled with the complexities of evicting 200 fare payng passengers. The knock-on effect on the airline schedule was profound with all flights to Venice ( 60 miles from Venice) cancelled. The world’s media converged to hear out story and we twittered the entire experience….

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