Another one from the News section:
Ryanair chief attacks O'Rourke for Jordanian toilet stopover
CONTROVERSIAL airline boss Michael O'Leary has managed to insult an entire nation, its national airline and has provoked an international diplomatic incident with comments he made about Royal Jordanian airlines in a letter to Public Enterprise Minister Mary O'Rourke.
Mr O'Leary wrote to Mrs O'Rourke on April 5 last complaining about a stopover announcement by Middle East airline, Royal Jordanian, at Shannon Airport.
In his letter, he said: "The fact that Royal Jordanian will now be stopping off with 100,000 people for wee-wees in Shannon will really guarantee the future of the airport and tourism in the Midwest region. Who knows, it might even create a job or two for lavatory cleaners in the area?"
Royal Jordanian recently launched 20 new flights weekly out of Shannon to New York and Amman and has invested heavily in their Shannon operations.
However, "insulting remarks" by the Ryanair Chief Executive have left the company feeling very hurt.
An outraged Al Saleh, Regional Director for Royal Jordanian, said the remarks were a big insult, and couldn't understand what motivated the comment. "Does he know what he is talking about? We have just started expanding our Irish service. We are advertising in the Middle East and the Far East for people to come and visit Ireland.
"We are in talks with the Irish Tourist Board about launching even more promotions here [Jordan], but we are hurt and saddened by these comments. Perhaps he should reconsider them," he said.
He said that Ireland was a very hospitable country and their figures for passengers visiting here have proved very promising. "This is not a technical stop. People do fly with us to visit Ireland. I am sorry Her Excellency [Mrs O'Rourke] has been dragged into this."
Mr Saleh said the company expected an apology from Mr O'Leary on the issue, and would be pressing it further. He refused to rule out legal action and added the Jordanian Government would also be looking at the issue. However, speaking to the Sunday Independent yesterday, the defiant airline boss said he would not be apologising.
"If the truth hurts that's their problem," he said. "They do nothing for the local economy, but this has nothing to do with Royal Jordanian. Last year it was Pakistani International stopping off for fuel and piss stops. This is between Ryanair and O'Rourke," he said.
Ryanair had single-handedly contributed to the success of Shannon, making it the fastest growing airport in Europe, he said. "If anybody should apologise, it is O'Rourke for single-handedly destroying tourism growth in the Midwest. If Royal Jordanian is hurt, such is life. If they want to open up a route we'll apologise."
The letter is just one of a series Mr O'Leary wrote to Mrs O'Rourke over the past year complaining about Aer Rianta, Government inaction over airline handling charges, and alleged Government protection of Aer Lingus.
The catalogue of letters runs into the hundreds and includes a number of perceived personal attacks against the Minister. A spokesperson for Mrs O'Rourke said she would not comment on letters from Ryanair.
Royal Jordanian was established by Royal Decree by the late King Hussein in 1963, a keen aviator, and carries the Royal Emblem, the Golden Crown of the Hashemite Court.
King Hussein's son, His Majesty King Abdullah Bin Hussein, also takes a personal interest in the Jordanian airline.