At the center of the unusual success story is Michael O’Leary, the airline’s 52-year-old Irish CEO.
O’Leary is nothing like the usually staid airline boss.
He prefers Viking and French chambermaid outfits to suits and ties. He curses at journalists and uses press conferences to rant about European tax policies that drive him nuts.
And in a recent announcement that Ryanair wants to improve its service to win over more customers, he didn’t mince words.
“We should try to eliminate things that unnecessarily piss people off,” he said.
Once you know all that, the following images of O’Leary pulling faces and clowning around will come as no surprise. This just isn’t normal CEO behaviour.
He made it clear what he thought of the EU Commission's March 2012 decision to open in-depth investigations into how airports were being financed.
He got a custom soccer jersey to tout a goal of 50 million passengers on Italian routes in October 2007.
He's big on making funny faces and gestures, like at this press conference in Marseille in February 2011.
And he went after some cake at an October 2010 conference, where he called for an end to the 'right to strike' for air travel workers.
O'Leary picked up Maria Mueller, his marketing manager for the Frankfurt-Hahn airport, in June 2002.
To advertise 'The Girls of Ryanair Cabin Crew Charity Calendar,' he hoisted one of his flight attendants.
At the 2013 Paris Air Show in June, O'Leary and Boeing Commercial Aeroplanes CEO Ray Conner announced Ryanair's order of 175 Boeing jets. Of course, O'Leary took the opportunity to play with a 50 euro bill and make a face.
The CEO rarely appears at the air shows, he said. And unlike just about everyone who went to Paris, he didn't bother to put on a suit. It's just not his way of doing business.
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