Michael O'Leary: Shane Ross 'playing a blinder' in Bus Éireann dispute

The Ryanair CEO also discussed Brexit in an interview with Ivan Yates...

Transport Minister Shane Ross 'has played a blinder' in the Bus Éireann dispute, according to Michael O'Leary.

The Ryanair boss joined Ivan Yates for this week's first edition of Yates on Sunday, and their conversation covered issues like Brexit and the ongoing Bus Éireann strike.

Despite calls for Minister Ross to step in and intervene, he has repeatedly refused to do. And the Ryanair CEO says that's exactly what a minister should be doing.

He told Ivan: “I think he’s played a blinder on the bus issue, because he stayed out of it - and the minister should stay out of those issues where you have public sector unions running around trying to suck ministers and politicians into resolving disputes.

He described former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern as a "great man for opening the cheque books and buying off the unions for many years".

"We are still dealing with the damage that that caused," Mr O'Leary argued.

"You have to stay out of it - let the management of Bus Éireann manage it. The unions have to accept that there is management in place, and they have to deal with management."

He suggested that negotiations with unions will only progress "when they understand that the Government won’t come around and open the cheque book again".

Brexit

Mr O'Leary has been one of the most vocal opponents of Britain leaving the EU, a position that led to this memorable photo outside the British Houses of Parliament:

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary in London urging Britons to vote Remain in the EU referendum | Image: Ryanair

With Article 50 now triggered and official negotiations getting underway, O'Leary's stance hasn't softened. Indeed, he said "there's a real risk" that there could be no flights between the UK and Europe for a few weeks or months after Brexit talks conclude.

He suggested the aviation industry does not know what's coming as "the British government doesn’t have a clue what they’re doing".

He suggested: "They have said with certainty that they’re going to leave the Open Skies regime - which is basically the European Union for airlines - because they don’t want to obey European Court of Justice rulings. But if you leave Open Skies, then we go back to [World Trade Organisation] rules. But aviation is not covered by WTO.

“If you’re going to leave Open Skies, you must negotiate a bilateral between the UK and Europe within the next two years," he explained.

He does not believe that is going to happen - and indeed he suggests Europe may be looking to teach the 'British man on the street' a lesson by having no agreement by the time March 2019 - the deadline for Brexit talks - rolls around.

"Maybe cutting off flights for three months at the end of March 2019, he’ll begin to understand what’s going on," Mr O'Leary said. "Explaining passporting of financial services doesn’t appeal to the guy in the street in Hull, or in Grimsby, or in Leicester. But if he can’t fly to Spain for his summer holidays, then they can begin to understand what’s happening."

And what is Michael O'Leary's optimum solution for Brexit?

“The optimum solution is Britain doesn’t leave the biggest free-trading bloc in the world," he insisted. "And I think they may well change their minds in two years time - I hope some common sense will prevail.”