Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary’s flamboyant PR stunts, like standing-room-only flights and charging for restrooms, have kept the airline in the media spotlight for years, notes Businessweek’s Justin Bachman:

In the airline business, a field populated with no shortage of larger-than-life characters — ie, Richard Branson, Herb Kelleher, Gordon Bethune — there is a grand tradition of taking some CEO statements with a grain of salt. The latest PR gambit that achieved stunning success was Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary’s Feb. 27 comments that the budget airline may charge passengers a pound to use the restroom.

The company’s later clarifications that O’Leary “makes a lot of this stuff up as he goes along” did not, of course, make quite the commensurate splash among the headlines. The Times Online rushed for pilots’ reactions (negative) and ABC News suggested Ryanair would even be courting mass incidents of urinary tract infection by imposing such a fee. Of course, this entire episode was launched by a man who suggested last June, during a news conference no less, that a certain sexual act could be one of the business-class features on Ryanair’s proposed trans-Atlantic carrier. Whew. The loo uproar is enough to make you wonder where the saltshakers went, eh?

O’Leary’s gutsy PR tactics definitely show how dedicated he is to keeping Ryanair ahead in the ultra-cheap airline game.

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