Editorial: Michael O’Leary Suggests ‘Getting Rid’ of the Co-Pilot

Editorial: Michael O’Leary Suggests ‘Getting Rid’ of the Co-Pilot

Airline pilots have accused Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary of endangering passengers’ safety after he called for co-pilots to be replaced with air stewardesses ~ Sky News Online

Michael O' Leary
Michael O’ Leary (Ryanair CEO)

Ryanair (a UK low-cost airline) boss Michael O’Leary has always been arrogant, loud-mouthed, and obnoxious, but has he gone too far in suggesting getting rid of one of the pilots to save money?

Despite everything Michael O’Leary has said in the past, there is no doubting that the guy is clever to a certain degree. He never seems to run out of absurd comments to make to get the airline in the news. His philosophy appears to be: negative publicity is still publicity.

I seem to remember watching a documentary on the Ryanair Chief Executice a while ago, where he stated everytime the airline was in the news – whether in a positive OR negative light – ticket bookings increased. In fact if my memory serves me correctly, his exact words were “everytime I’m on TV, we sell more tickets”.

Whether he is threatening to charge passengers £1 to use the toilet or exploring the possibility of operating flights with standing room only, he has a unusual way of advertising his airline. But, does it work? On the whole…. yes.

If you look at every comment he has made, it’s always been about cost saving (however insane his suggestions are). O’Leary surely knew that the European Aviation Safety Agency would never allow an aircraft to fly without seats ~ he is an intelligent guy after all ~ but he suggested it to create a media storm. Making such outlandish suggestions guarantees his airline free publicity and whereas it may appear to be negative publicity, simply put, it works. When a passenger is looking for a cheap flight, they will always remember Ryanair first.

But, his claim that he would like to get rid of one of the pilots is probably a step too far in most people’s book. We all know there are two pilots (at least) for a reason. One will be ‘in control’ of the aircraft, whilst the other will be cross-checking everything he/she does.

This – if you can bear to read it – is what O’Leary said;

Really, you only need one pilot. Let’s take out the second pilot. Let the bloody computer fly it. If the pilot has an emergency, he rings the bell, he calls her (the stewardess) in, she could take over.

Yes, you read it right. He has suggested that one of the stewardesses (who has been trained to land an aircraft) can take over if the one remaining pilot runs into problems.

After reading this, my initial thought was I’m glad I’m not a Ryanair pilot. How undermined would you feel if your boss disrespected your importance to such a degree?! Yes, he appears to think that one of his Flight Attendant’s can come and save the day if the pilot has a problem.

I’m not disputing that in extreme circumstances a Flight Attendant could land the aircraft – with a lot of help from someone on the ground and the work of the modern autopilot – but to suggest that you can get rid of one pilot, and replace that highly trained professional with a Flight Attendant* is ludicrous and offensive to all Ryanair pilots who have spent thousands of pounds on training (approx £60,000) to become an airline pilot.

My second thought was – of course – how does this comment come across to someone who has a fear of flying? How does it feel to think that an owner of an airline would just get rid of one of it’s pilots to save money, instantly endangering the lives of innocent passengers in the process?

Of course, just for the record, the safety authorities would NEVER allow Ryanair to fly with only one pilot. I’m also pretty sure that O’Leary was not actually being 100% serious when he made those comments, but merely gaining some publicity. But, as a fearful flyer who ALREADY worries a lot about flying, these comments will be taken very seriously and could cause great concern.

Unfortunately, until people decide to stop flying with them, O’Leary will continue upsetting the whole aviation industry – who pride themselves on their levels of safety and professionalism – with his ridiculous, offensive, and childish comments. One day, I’m sure, his comments will backfire. Whether that day is today remains to be seen.

Please share your thoughts below, I’m intrigued to hear them.

* I’m not implying that Flight Attendant’s are not highly trained professionals, they are. But are they highly trained in flying aircraft? NO, otherwise we’d be pilots!

One response to “Editorial: Michael O’Leary Suggests ‘Getting Rid’ of the Co-Pilot”

  1. Michael O’Leary is a man who sadly puts lining his pockets ahead of customer care and concern. His ticket sales may increase everytime he is allowed to appear on our Tv screens but I certainly wouldn’t want to fly with a company that makes such flippant remarks, whether accurate or not.

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