Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary found himself somewhat pie-eyed after being on the receiving end of two carefully aimed cream pies by Belgian eco-activists as he addressed media in Brussels today.
The airline Chairman had travelled to Belgium to deliver a petition aimed at protecting European airspace overflights during ATC strike actions; an issue which the carrier has hotly contested over recent months.
Two Pies One Press Conference
O’Leary was in the process of addressing a press conference on the subject, standing with the petition alongside a cardboard likeness of the EU commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, when a woman approached and launched a cream pie in his face.
When O’Leary ducked and turned away, it gave another activist the opportunity to deliver a second cream pie projectile to the back of his head.
The eco-activists jeered as they departed yelling “Welcome to Belgium” and “Stop the pollution” at the cream spattered Ryanair boss.
O’Leary made a quick recovery, brushing off both the cream pie and the unexpected incident with a joke, saying ‘Unfortunately it was environmentalists and the cream was artificial. I invite passengers to come to Ireland where the cream is better!’
Ryanair’s social media team were also quick on the comeback, pointing out that the activists could have afforded one of their airline tickets for the same cost as the pies.
Ryanair have hotly contested the issue of European overflight protection, having previously delivered a petition several months ago.
On May 31, Ryanair handed over a petition signed by more than 1.1m people to the EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s office.
The petition was titled ‘Protect Overflights: Keep EU Skies Open’. The signatures come from passengers frustrated with multiple layers of flight disruption in the wake of Air Traffic Control (ATC) strikes across Europe’s skies.
Belgian Pilots Strike Action
In a rather ironic move, just as Michael O’Leary delivers a bolstered petition to protect overflights during European ATC strike actions, Ryanair Belgian-based pilots are planning further strike action of their own.
Ryanair flight crews based at Brussels-Charleroi Airport have announced a proposed strike action on September 14 and 15, which is strategically planned to coincide with an airline shareholder Annual General Meeting in Dublin.
If the strike action goes ahead it will become the fourth industrial action by the pilots in the past two months. The pilots are represented by the Belgian cockpit Association, and the unions ACV Pulse and CNE.
Meanwhile, Ryanair’s battle with the EU Commission to afford greater protection to overflights continues. It is uncertain whether the activist at the centre of today’s cream pie event is to be held in custardy.
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