- Could not have read biography
- Michael O’Leary apologies to people hurt by inaccurate references
Michael O’Leary has issued a statement saying Willie Walsh has not been ‘sounded out’ to join Ryanair. The claim emerged in Matt Cooper’s biography that Michael O’Leary had dinner in London during the summer with Willie Walsh and discussed the possibility of Walsh returning to Ireland to run Ryanair after O’Leary’s current contract expires next year.
Michael O’Leary said: “I meet Willie, and the CEOs of Europe’s other leading airlines on average once or twice a year to advance the Airlines 4 Europe agenda. I have long been an admirer of Willie Walsh, but have frequently explained that when I eventually step down from Ryanair, I expect the board will make a decision on my replacement, choosing from a number of excellent internal candidates, while also advertising externally, so that they can select the best candidate to replace me to lead Ryanair.”
I politely declined Matt Cooper’s request that I cooperate with a Biography he was proposing to write some time ago. I explained that I don’t like personal publicity and for the sake of my family, I asked him not to proceed with any such book. While we live in a country which supports the freedom of the press, I was disappointed to learn over the weekend that other people who I know and admire, are being subjected to false claims and innuendo in this book. In order to defend their good name and reputation, I wish to state for the record that neither Michael Cawley nor Howard Millar were “ushered out” of Ryanair when they decided to step down in March and December 2014 respectively.
“In both cases, the Board and I tried to persuade them to remain working in Ryanair, and they were offered Share Options to incentivise them to do so. Both freely chose to pursue other career goals, but such was Ryanair’s regard for Michael and Howard that they were invited to join the Board of Ryanair as Non-Executive Directors some 6 months (of garden leave) after each had retired from full time Executive roles.”
“I sincerely regret any hurt or damage that may have been caused to Michael Cawley, Howard Millar, and Willie Walsh by these false and inaccurate claims which appear to have originated from this unauthorised and sadly unsubstantiated book”.
Michael McLoughlin of Penguin Random House in a written statement said it said it stood over the publication, was “fully supportive of the book and its content and said it is neither a PR job for Ryanair nor is it hostile to Ryanair or Michael O’Leary“.