Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary hails Brexiteer exodus under Sunak

Ryanair's Michael O'Leary blames Brexit for airport disruptions

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Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary has hailed the appointment of Rishi Sunak as Prime Minister, expressing his joy the “Brexiteer wing” of the Government is on its way out. The boss of one of the world’s largest airlines has long been a fierce critic of Brexit, and last week described the economic situation in Britain as a “car crash” caused by the country’s vote to leave the European Union in 2016.

But he has poured praise on the appointment of former Chancellor Mr Sunak as the UK’s new Prime Minister, adding: “Adults have taken charge again.”

Despite his criticism, Mr O’Leary accepts “Brexit is done” but remains positive about the trade deal the UK has with the EU.

Mr O’Leary told Reuters on the sidelines of an event in Lisbon, Portugal: “They are getting rid of some of the people who were there, from Boris Johnson to Liz Truss, all the Brexiteer wing of the Tory party – they are crazies.

“We all accept that we left the EU. Brexit is done but at least have the best free trade deal you can have. Europe is still the UK’s largest trading partner.”

The UK and EU signed the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) at the eleventh hour on December 30, 2020 following several months of negotiations.

It provisionally applied from January 1,2021 when the Brexit transition period ended, before formally entering into force exactly on May 1, 2021.

The deal provides for free trade in goods and some mutual market access in services, as well as for cooperation mechanisms in a number of policy areas, transition provisions about EU access to UK fisheries, and UK participation in some EU programmes.

Last week, Mr O’Leary blamed the UK’s departure from the EU for the dire condition of the UK economy, telling a news conference in Rome: “The mini budget was a kind of spectacular failure of the whole concept of Brexit.”

Commenting on outgoing Prime Minister Liz Truss, he said: “She got elected by appealing to all the Brexiteers for the last three months and it is the ultimate, I think, failure of Brexit and the Brexiteers.”

The Ryanair boss had also welcomed the appointment of Jeremy Hunt as Chancellor, adding: “The Remainers are coming back, the adults are taking charge again. We will return to some sensible economic policies.”

Mr Sunak has formally become the country’s third Prime Minister in just two months, and has promised to restore trust in British politics, insisting he will prioritise the needs of the public.

But he immediately faces the huge task of tacking a mounting economic nightmare, with inflation spiralling and the Bank of England warning of more interest rate hikes.

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The cost of living crisis has hit the UK and rest of Europe hard, but Mr O’Leary claimed inflation was said inflation was “very good” for his company because “people don’t stop flying” and instead turn to cheaper airlines, such as Ryanair.

He said: “In a recession people become more price sensitive. They shop in Lidl and Aldi, they spend more on furniture in IKEA and when they want to fly, they fly with Ryanair.”

The Ryanair boss said bookings were “growing faster than expected” in the face of rising inflation.

Mr O’Leary added: “We thought bookings would level off after August into September, October and November (but) they are still remarkably strong.”

Last month, the airline recorded its third busiest month ever, flying 15.9 million passengers, which was also up 13 percent on pre-Covid levels.

Ryanair flew 15.9 million passengers in September, its third busiest month ever and up 13% on pre-COVID levels.

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