Can Michael O’Leary really be that nasty?

When Michael O’Leary the Chief Executuive of Ryanair said that only “slumdwellers” were at risk of contracting swine flu, you have to wonder about his sanity. But in truth his message probably wasn’t a statement about medical matters, it was more another headline grabbing act for which he is so famous.

And of course when he gets written about it is always with reference to Ryanair. His cheap comments create valuable marketing for his cheap airline. The ability to turn any situation to one’s own marketing advantage is a skill that many of us could learn from.

He’s also totally focused on his business and the need to drive down costs; treats customers poorly and makes it clear that he runs the ultimate no frills airline. The message is clear: if you don’t like it go elsewhere.

The results speak for themselves: Ryanair continues to thrive, O’Leary continues to amass personal wealth and he has probably been the single biggest lever in changing the airline travel industry. You might not like his comments but you’ve got to admire his focus and results.