In a new in-depth interview with The Times (paywall), Michael O’Leary the boss of Ryanair has said governments should racially profile passengers to improve airport security, claiming that current security measures are “completely irrelevant”. O’Leary, 59, admitted such a system would target “males of a Muslim persuasion”.
“Security is a joke, but we can never roll back these security measures, most of which are completely irrelevant,” he told journalist Alice Thomson during an interview at Ryanair’s head office in Dublin
“They are looking for bombs and explosives, OK, but why liquids in containers over 100ml? What about two 99ml bottles? Most airport security is utterly useless. It is only designed so that politicians can convey the impression that they are doing something,” he continued.
“As an industry we have to invest in security, but the problem is we never look back ten years later and say, ‘Is this effective any more? Should we still be taking all the steel cutlery off planes when someone could stab you with a big Biro?’ “
On what he would do to improve the current security procedures, O’Leary then raised the possibility of profiling passengers, an often criticised tactic used in Israel for the fact that Arab passengers are disproportionately subjected to enhanced security checks.
“Who are the bombers?” O’Leary asks. “They are going to be single males travelling on their own. If you are travelling with a family of kids, on you go; the chances you are going to blow them all up is f***ing zero. You can’t say stuff, because it’s racism, but it will generally be males of a Muslim persuasion.”
“Thirty years ago, it was the Irish. If that is where the threat is coming from, deal with the threat.”
The interview covered a wide range of issues, including the need to “pander” to the issues important to Millenials such as gender equality and his opinion on the environmentalist Greta Thunberg:
“… all the abuse (on environmental matters) goes to the airlines because some 17-year-old Swedish girl goes, ‘Oh, we shouldn’t be flying.’ It’s OK for her, she can get a racing yacht across the Atlantic with a crew who flew to pick her up.”
O’Leary maintains that other industries are far more polluting than aviation and that plans to spend billions of Euros over the next eight years on new more efficient planes will reduce Ryanair’s carbon footprint.
“We can get rid of business class,” O’Leary suggests. “First class should have gone years ago. We should all fly more densely so at least when we are flying, we are doing it reasonably efficiently.”
O’Leary also said:
- He would never ban workplace relationships, saying cabin crew are “sexually athletic”
- Brexit is a stupid decision made by the UK and that the British will eventually rejoin the EU
- Ryanair will offer lower fares to encourage people to fly on the Boeing 737MAX when it reenters service – and will even refund passengers who are unhappy to fly on the plane
- Comfort animals are a “complete nonsense” and passengers don’t have a “right to everything”.
As interviews go O’Leary certainly wasn’t shy, although the longtime aviation executive is certainly no stranger to controversy. No wonder he also admitted in the same interview that he stays clear of social media because he’d be a “disaster”.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.