Outspoken Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary – famous for winding up his own passengers on a regular basis – has turned his own brand of “say it as it is” comments on the Greek crisis, describing the government as “a bunch of lunatics”.
O'Leary – whose business operates flights to and from cities such as Athens, Thessaloniki and Kefalonia – also claimed too many people were “sitting in cafes drinking coffee and expecting the Germans or the Irish or the Portuguese to pay” their debts.
He told Irish radio Newstalk: “The Greek situation is a tragedy, the difficulty for the Greeks is that they think that just by electing a bunch of lunatics you're going to get away from austerity... If you want to borrow from the Germans, you have to take the medicine.”
The fundamental problem, O'Leary claimed, was that 52 per cent of Greek households “depend on pensions as their main source of income, while only 11 per cent of people pay tax”.
“Now that's a circle you're never going to close,” he added. “More Greeks have to pay tax, you have to close off the black market, and fewer Greeks have to be able to live off pensions.”
“More people have to be productive – yes, elderly people and young people need to help. If you are of working age, go out and work.”
O'Leary, who appeared at the interview with his arm in a sling, was speaking to mark the 30th anniversary of the airline.
He has recently adopted a more “friendly” approach to customers, to a positive reaction, prompting him to admit if he'd known “being nice to customers would work so well I would have started many years ago”.
Clearly that tactic is not being extended to potential Greek customers.
His comments are a million miles away from those made by controversial economist Thomas Piketty earlier this week, who claimed that Germany could not lecture Greece over paying back its debts because it “has never repaid its debts”.