Taking the stage in a rambunctious mood at the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Summit, which opened in Madrid today, RyanAir chief executive Michael O’Leary took a swipe at the EU during a debate about whether Europe’s infrastructure is fit for purpose, when it comes to bolstering the continent’s travel sector.
Asked about Europe’s growth potential, he said: “Any sense of optimism should be heavily tempered by what kind of stupidity will be visited on us by the European Commission and the politicians in the next five years. If it’s anything as bad as the last five years, it would be spectacularly incompetent.”
O’Leary, drawing laughs around the auditorium with every expletive, went on to say that, had the conference he was attending been held the previous week, “no one would have been able to get here” because of the French air traffic control strike, suggesting the right to strike should be removed.
“You can’t prevent them from striking? Yes you actually can, if you really care about tourism and job creation here in Europe as they do in the States…”
O’Leary also dismissed the optimism of José Manuel Barroso, the eleventh president of the European Commission, serving from 2004 to 2014, who had earlier taken the same stage and talked up the on-going benefits of globalisation and the EU.
“[Barroso] sat there for 10 years and did nothing for tourism.”