Ryanair CEO Pied By Climate Protesters: 'Stop The Pollution Of The F***ing Planes!'

A real Pie-anair incident.
Michael O'Leary, the chief executive officer of the airline Ryanair was pied earlier today.
Michael O'Leary, the chief executive officer of the airline Ryanair was pied earlier today.
NurPhoto via Getty Images

It wasn’t quite a pie-in-the-sky moment earlier today, but Ryanair’s CEO Michael O’Leary certainly got more than he bargained for during an encounter with climate protesters on Thursday.

As he was heading into the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, O’Leary came face to face with two environmentalists who were walking in the opposite direction.

The two women approached him and shouted, “welcome [to] Belgium,” before one of them shoved the pie into his face.

She shouted: “Stop the pollution of the fucking planes.”

The protesters then wrapped things up with another rapid pie-in-the-face for O’Leary, before walking off.

The boss of the budget airline – who was uninjured – laughed off the incident in front of reporters, and just sarcastically said: “Well done.”

He seemed to take it all light-heartedly though, quickly taking off his jacket, and initially refusing to discuss the incident with reporters.

Covered in cream, he told them: “I love cream cakes, they are my favourite.”

The Ryanair boss was in the process of handing in a petition to the European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, allegedly with 1.5 million signatures, calling for the better protection for airlines against air traffic control strikes.

This comes after industrial action in France forced Ryanair to cancel 900 journeys back in June.

He then rounded up his informal media chat by licking his fingers and saying: “Delicious cake, is there any more?”

O’Leary, who is group chief executive, joked about the protest again later, telling a press conference: “My only complaint was that the cream was artificial and not tasty.”

His company then adopted the same tongue-in-cheek attitude when it posted about the moment on social media.

In a post on X – the platform formerly known as Twitter – Ryanair wrote: “Shame it was soy-based cream, definitely not as tasty as the real stuff.”

The post was accompanied with an action shot of the pieing and an awkward-looking emoji.

But Ryanair wasn’t done – it released a follow-up post with a new joke (and the same picture), tapping into a common social media joke by writing: “Michael O’Leary [handshake] sneaking past security to deliver 1.5M signatures to Ursula von der Leyen.”

Climate activists have been scrutinised over their tactics in recent years, with many calling on the groups to focus on high carbon emissions companies – like airlines.

Air transport produced 2.4% of the 42 billion tonnes of CO2, according to the BBC. The gases planes release, along with water vapour trails, the whole industry is responsible for approximately 5% of global warming.

That doesn’t sound like much, but the International Council on Clean Transportation, a US-based non-profit, estimated only 3% of the global population regularly fly.

Environmentalists previously faced backlash after appearing to deface a Vincent Van Gogh painting (it was actually protected by glass), while Just Stop Oil group have also disrupted sports events and traffic.


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