According to Richard Branson, the secret to running a successful airline is to keep the staff happy. They will, in turn, be nice to the passengers, who will themselves be happy and flock to fly. A charming if naive theory. Virgin Atlantic, run on this principle, has teetered on the edge of insolvency for years.
Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary, on the other hand, doesn’t seem especially obsessed with the morale of either his cabin crews or his passengers. He cares about watching the pennies and making sure his planes run on time. He is a brutal negotiator. When Willie Mullins, who trained his 60 racehorses, tried to increase his fees, O’Leary withdrew every single horse from his yard. When Boeing demanded he pay more for new jets, O’Leary called them ‘delusional’.