Environmental extremists throw cream cake on Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary as he is on his way to deliver the 'Protect Overflights: Keep EU Skies Open' petition to EU Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen’s office in Brussels, Belgium, 07 September 2023. EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET


Ryanair boss gets the cream cake treatment


Climate extremists threw cream cakes at Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary in Brussels on September 7.

O’Leary is in Belgium to deliver his Protect Overflights: Keep EU Skies Open petition to the European Commission.

While he was setting up to give a speech to the assembled media, next to a cardboard cut-out of von der Leyen, a woman’s voice was heard shouting “Welcome in Belgium!” Seconds later, the Ryanair leader got hit with two cream pies, one in his face and one on the back of his head.

The unnamed women then ran away yelling “Stop the pollution by the fucking planes!”

O’Leary seemed briefly shaken but after removing his jacket and some of the cake off his face and head, he got back to business.

Journalists immediately asked about the announced Ryanair strike over pay and working conditions, set for September 14 and 15: the fourth walkout in just two months.

The 62-year-old insisted he wanted to give his planned press conference first and hand over his petition to von der Leyen.

Amid pressure from gathered journalists, he did comment on the pies incident. “I love cream cakes, they are my favourite,” he quipped before returning to the subject of von der Leyen.

Later, he jokingly added: “I have never had such a warm welcome. Unfortunately, it was environmentalists and the cream was artificial. I invite passengers to come to Ireland where the cream is better!”

Ryanair will invest €200 million in Belgium’s Charleroi airport, also called Brussels South, and will add seven new routes. In total, it said, 60 new jobs will be created.

O’Leary does face some problems other than being cream-pied, though; his pilots want the 20 per cent salary cut they accepted due to the COVID-19 crisis to be reinstated. They are also refusing to accept the fact that the airline wants to reduce days off.

Ryanair wants the EC to take action to protect EU passenger flights against delayed and cancelled flights as a consequence of the strikes. This would mean the Europe-wide introduction of minimum service, allowing other Air Traffic Control (ATC) operators to manage flights when local ATCs strike, and mandate unions to engage in binding arbitration before staging walkouts.

Ryanair claims it has been forced to disproportionately cancel thousands of flights in Europe because of strikes, hurting international travellers.

The EC said that a number of European nations have already implemented safeguards to mitigate flight cancellations.

Ryanair is advocating for the universal enforcement of these protective measures across all EU Member States.