She must have got it from her mother, who in turn got it from her mother, otherwise, she’d never have delivered the immortal lines with such certainty. When my mother pronounced, as she did on numerous occasions, the favourite put-down of the Irish Mammy, “she’s far too good for him, you know”, it seemed she was saying something so self-evidently obvious that it couldn’t be challenged.
Such confidence could only have come from the secure knowledge that summing up potential suitors for their daughters was something Irish mammies were bred to do. It was in the genes; without any doubt, they were always right.
With the Irish Mammy setting such a high bar for their daughters, it’s no wonder that up to the 1960s, Ireland had the highest number of bachelors and spinsters in the western world. Even as the “Mammy Fatwa” on suitable boys wavered in the 1980s, the idea that “no one was good enough for our darlings” still endured in the background. The fatwa condemned me — as a teenage younger brother — to the prospect of unfeasibly straight older sisters’ boyfriends with a penchant for al fresco, Mammy lick-arsery.
Everybody knows that if you are a teenage boy with no older brothers the only thing an older sister’s boyfriend is good for is giving you fags, buying you drink and taping music for you.
Once they deliver the above, as far as you are concerned they are free to debase your sister however they please because the other rule of growing up is that lack of experience ensures younger brothers are never as protective as older ones.
So you can imagine my horror when the Mammy Fatwa funnelled a series of Leo Sawyer- loving “charismatics” in cords to our front door. Thankfully, the Mammy Fatwa couldn’t hold and as my sisters revolted, fags, booze and rare Japanese imports of B-sides, came cascading into my lap in return for my conspiratorial silence. Yesterday I heard a financial version of the Mammy Fatwa. These days, Aer Lingus is the over-protected daughter and Ryanair is the predatory gurrier forcing itself upon our national damsel. Such self-righteous tripe!
Listening to the comment from all quarters, I can hear the Mammy Fatwa once more. Aer Lingus, our loss-making little princess is “far to good for that O’Leary fella”. O’Leary is being painted as a man who knows nothing; a fella who will defile the virginal Aer Lingus and who is only after one thing.
Let’s get real, like him or not, Michael O’Leary is not only the most successful aviation businessmen in Ireland, he is the most successful operator in the world, bar none. Far from being the upstart, Ryanair is the peerless leader in European aviation, having being built from nothing on a model that has democratised air travel, opening it up to almost everyone.
Yes his style is confrontational, but don’t let that disguise the fact that the man behind Ryanair knows how to run airlines. The company employs nearly three times more than Aer Lingus, flies five times more passengers and is an airline that has always expanded in adversity. Its cost per passenger, at â‚¬55, is three times lower than Aer Lingus. And, more importantly, it has Boeing where it wants it, cutting a deal which sees Ryanair pay close to 40pc less for new planes than its rivals.
O’Leary is a maverick, but a straight, successful one. When he says he wants to double Aer Lingus’s size to 66 aircraft and will keep the slots at Heathrow, he will do it. He sees value where others don’t, opportunity where others see threats. When everyone else was cutting back, O’Leary was doing the opposite. When everyone else was hedging oil, O’Leary was doing the opposite and now, when everyone else is consolidating, O’Leary is trying to grow.
But in Ireland this is not enough. We disposed of the moral and, frankly, socially insecure Mammy Fatwa of the 1960s and 1970s but have replaced it with a new commercial Mammy Fatwa. One of the central planks of this is the man who revolutionised air travel in this country is not worthy of the company that did everything in its power to stop him, and failed.
The financial Mammy Fatwa only makes sense, in the face of a dwindling number of suitors, if it can answer the question, what or who is the alternative? So let’s ask the question, what is the Aer Lingus alternative? What other airline is going to secure Aer Lingus’ future and a national brand and a viable airline? In case you hadn’t noticed there is a massive contraction going on in the airline business and the European airline industry is now one huge consolidation play. Sure Aer Lingus has plenty of cash on its balance sheet, but what is its future as an independent airline?
Let us cut to the chase, we are now in a period of massive consolidation in every industry. This is a result of where we find ourselves in the business cycle.
All economic cycles have their proliferation phase and their consolidation phase. Put simply, booms are characterised by proliferations and busts by consolidations. The proliferation phase comes when money is cheap and credit available, economies are growing strongly, asset prices are inflated, all forecasts are exuberant and companies expand rapidly. This period sees new entrants into the business, chasing a customer who is now perceived to have near-mythical buying power. Then comes recession and proliferation gives way to consolidation. The consolidation phases see money become tight, banks share prices fall and they stop lending. This sends shares down, unemployment up, and companies that thought that they could weather the storm find themselves in difficulties. They cut back, as Aer Lingus did, with massive rationalising plans, and that makes them look more vulnerable.
In short, these companies get caught, they can neither expand dramatically nor contract sufficiently. Ultimately, mergers with bigger suitors become one of the few logical ways for these companies to grow. Aer Lingus finds itself in this position.
Despite all the talk of a national carrier and national pride, it pulled out of Shannon when Ryanair remained there. Indeed, Ryanair reduced prices further out of Shannon. Why wouldn’t O’Leary buy the asset, keep it as a mid-price range airline and expand its operations using the UK or the continent as new hubs, alongside Dublin?
There is no business case to answer. Ryanair has proved that it can win in the airline business and, more importantly, adapt to most situations. Of course there will be a monumental row with the unions and the Aer Lingus management. But we should put this down to the inevitable row between teenagers and the Mammy, when the Mammy Fatwa is invoked.
Ultimately the question is what is Aer Lingus’s alternative? In the consolidation phase, there can be movement on the price, but the eventual buyer is reasonably obvious. Is O’Leary that buyer? The answer is yes. Is he a suitable boy? Much as he himself would hate to be termed that, his business record makes him just that, a suitable boy!
What, a David McWilliams article that doesnt mention the disfunctional Irish banks? Am I seeing things?
I agree. Ryanair will eventually end up owning Aer Lingus after much hand wringing and union BS. I dont fancy the thought much tho. I shudder to think what they will charge for a sandwich on a trans-atlantic flight.
Great article tho. Particularly the bit about the older sisters boyfriends fags and pints supply chain. I was on the supply end of that little arrangement once or twice in my life and on the receiving end of the Mammy Fatwa as well.
Shannon is the birth right of Ryan Air and previously Aer Lingus ( Water Planes from USA ) …it makes sense that they now should consumate there and make Shannon a World Class location .
The western corridor will welcome this initiative and new employment to be created in new rail stock and high-ways with Shannon as Centrum
Cliff of Moher …Bunratty …..Irish Music….Adare Manor ….Dromoland Castle …Killarney ….etc…………………..and maybe the end of voyerism in Temple Bar
If Fianna Fail had not spent the last 20 years mollycuddling their swathe of voters in north county Dublin to retain a Dail seat at the expense of the nations taxpayers- Michael O leary would have been the owner of Aer Lingus years ago.
Great article David-but who is listening.Perhaps the two Brians, in their desperation for a little cash in their empty begging bowl, will do the right thing at last and give Brussels the nod and wink.!
I don’t know about O’Leary being an honest as you make out. He lead the charge on coming up with as many way as possible to make a 100eur flight to somewhere in the German boonies look like a 1eur flight to Frankfurt. I’ve also heard him give a few weasel-worded interviews. I would not trust him for a minute with the Heathrow slots. Maybe the pols retain some affection for “the national airline” but everyone else would flog it in a heartbeat if it keeps flights and keeps them cheap. The problem is that having a virtual monopoly on… Read more »
>Its cost per passenger, at â‚¬55, is three times lower than Aer Lingus. Oh come on, I expect this kind of mathematical illiteracy from our leaders, but not from you. I’m guessing that you mean that Aer Lingus cost per passenger is 3 x 55 =165. But what your statement actually means is RA = AL – (3xAL) , which works out as Aer Lingus have a cost per passenger of -27.5. Nonsense. As I understand it, Aer Lingus is a private company, that is *legally obliged* to maximise shareholder value. If that means selling out to Ryanair, then that… Read more »
An accurate assessment and an entertaining article .I agree it is the way forward considering how the world aviation industry is evolving. However , in the case of AerLingus , considering the diverse range of stakeholders involved, the devil is in the detail and timing is where the money is . Surely , you are not suggesting that a currently solvent airline is immediately dumped at a knock down price and in so doing milk the taxpayer yet again ? Irish Fertiliser Industries is case in point – The replacement value of the land/plant – â‚¬1.7 billion – Sale price… Read more »
Hi David, Ryanair is an interesting story, as is Michael O’Leary. One thing people cant deny, he does pay his taxes and more’s to the point he wants to. I admire his work ethic and what he has done with Ryanair. And he has given us a laugh along the way, he certainly calls a spade a spade. As for the play for Aer Lingus, I think the EC/EU is correct that it would reduce the choice of competition in Ireland. Perhaps they could allow the companies to merge if Ryanlingus ‘gave up’ 40% of their Irish slots/market to another… Read more »
What amazes me is that there is a simple solution to monopolies or oligopolies in any industry and that is to provide some level or regulatory system. Okay if Ryan-Lingus controls 80% of the Dublin traffic, so like utilities such as Telecoms and the National Grid some independent system of oversight could easily ensure some levels of reality be maintained in what is in reality a utility. This country is knee deep in benchmarking so some degree of benchmarking system could easily ensure a fair mechanism without undue interference. With the level of government intervention in the other utilities even… Read more »
I couldn’t care less, but I dislike Ryanair’s product and won’t be using them. If they buy AerLingus I’ll be a BMI man. No objection to O’Leary, just a dislike of sharing a plane with stag parties. And possibly an irrational dislike of yellow.
Basicly if I wanted to travel to the UK on a bus I’d have taken Slattery’s Abortion Express.
It would be cheaper for Aer Lingus staff to lift up each plane and carry it to the destination.
The Eye – thats how they transport the Curragh boat
I find the negative things people say about Ryanair is more a reflection about their own inadequacies than Ryanair’s inadequacies.
Gerry, I agree with Garry. In theory, regulation should work, as long as the regulators are lean and mean and have teeth (legislatively). In practice, it doesnt work – a human failing. eg: is the ESB the most efficient electricity service in Europe? nope. And there are countless other examples. Garry is right, although I wouldnt have put it quite the same way, these regulators and the multitude of quango’s are stuffed with people who are there for a cushy number and hence the culture within them is all wrong. They are bureacratic and slow. And ineffective in many cases.… Read more »
Ryan Hair…..the low frills hairline to be opened by Mary Harney courtesy of the government Jet.
Ryan Air is a dreadful service. Treat people like cattle. It’s margin building by gotcha’s. Customer service is a non-starter. They would ruin Ireland’s reputation further. I do not care what public data may be saying on their being on time etc. I think it is highly selective and wrong. Companies will always use an alternative to Ryanair if possible. They cause a lot of wasted time and grief. And I challenge the notion that they are good managers. This downturn has only started. They may find that passenger numbers may fall faster than they realise. Those left who need… Read more »
the eye – funny u say that ….my notaire asked me the other day in choppy english ….did she have any hairs? ( gid it )
Dave I agree all the way.
This is an opportunity for the government to start the inevitable showdown with the unions.
Its time for sensible and logical decisions, like sanctioning this take over.
Few comments: Trying to turn Michael O’Leary into a choir boy is a bit of a stretch. Ryanair delivers convenience and that is all. Everything else about their product/service offering is low-rent and aimed at traveling yobs. Ryanair gets planes 40% cheaper? Yes maybe because the seats are plastic and there are more of them. It’s no feat to get cheaper planes when your request bone-twisting, immovable seats. Lets also ponder on why they are the most hated airline in the UK and probably in a few other countries also. Do we really have to be compared to Irish mammies… Read more »
I agree with b, except about Shannon. b, do you really think people in the west should travel across the country then into gridlock, then go on a wild goose chase to find parking, then catch a bus back to get to the great Third World Dublin Airport instead of using their own local airport? And if Dubliners want a metro system built to the airport for â‚¬X billion , then raise the tax from Dubliners who use it. I’d love to see O’Leary taking Mannion’s glasses off and slapping him a few times (and this one’s for Shannon). Mannion… Read more »
I agree with b, except about Shannon. b, do you really think people in the west should travel across the country then into gridlock, then go on a wild goose chase to find parking, then catch a bus back to get to the great Third World Dublin Airport instead of using their own local airport? And if Dubliners want a metro system built to the airport for â‚¬X billion , then raise the tax from Dubliners who will use it. I’d love to see O’Leary taking Mannion’s glasses off and slapping him a few times (and this one’s for Shannon).… Read more »
David, read your article this morning, and must say the image of the gouger O’Leary deflowering the virginal Aer Lingus is certainly a lively one to visualise over breakfast. The whole thing is, in my view, a clash of cultures. Aer Lingus is still largely in semi-state mode, Ryanair is a pared to the bone market/sales driven carrier, while they are both involved in the same business, they have very different models. A Ryanair takeover of Aer Lingus would have more in common with Tata’s takeover of Jaguar than Volkwagon’s takeover of Skoda for example. I doubt it would in… Read more »
The BA/QF merger and the mergers of various banks shows how quickly events are unfolding…. Mergers that would previously have been unthinkable (even from various Competition Authorities viewpoint) are being arranged all over the shop.
Shannon has been first in so many ways ……..and thats hard to beat …….all other airports are clones….Shannon is at the top …….Ryanair knows that magic …thats why it is first too for what it offers …there will be lots more to happen in Shannon …and Aer Lingus ( space ship airline )……will return like a prodigal son or daughter
David , I have enjoyed your article today a change from The Bankers ! , @ ALL the Ryan Air knockers here , it’s time the lot of you grew up outside of your insular world here in Ireland , Ryan Air is praised for it’s no nonsense approach and economy seats throughout Europe from Spain over to Italy and across Scandinavia . So a few British complain , well the British conservatives do enjoy their afternoon teas and it is the narrow minded amongst them who find fault with Ryan Air as it Gauls them that an Irish Man… Read more »
Some of us who travel with Ryanair arenÂ´t Yobs, you know Mugsy. We canÂ´t all afford first class or business class travel. You donÂ´t work for Fas do you?
Hi David – argument aside, definitely consider your international audience..might be worth changing the “giving you fags” to cigarettes or smokes for especially the US readers..
Munster Rugby is the Top …..D Best …..in Europe …and D World ……when they play they do so …..with Pride ……..if D Irish Rugby Team was made up with only the Munster Team ……Ireland would be the Top …D Best in Europe ….and D World ……we need to find our ………True Values again …………….to Succeed as a Nation ….and with a …proper sense of Duty ….Thomond Park is now the Nations …New Dail…..a place …..to meet …..to watch with glory …..to fight with style and dignity …..and most of all….to WIN
Pay Deals – the pound sterling will soon be on parity with the Euro and then the Sterling will become a member of the Euro Family …..this will reinforce the advantages of the low cost base in Northern Ireland and the UK ….this is more than very serious for The State ….because our costs will soar too high and increase the unemployment to unsustainable levels .We need to restore our costs base and reduce our importation especially food and non essential items . There is now a need to Centralise Factors of Production as we know them in Economics and… Read more »
Security of Possessions – Crime is the biggest growth industry now and needs to be stopped using State and Voluntary Agencies and recruiting the unemployed
i don’t where you got your figures from but i’m worried about how in accurate they are. it does not cost ryanair â‚¬55 per passenger the cost is just over â‚¬40. and Aer Lingus cost base is around â‚¬80 as to make a fair comparison you can really only use the short haul part of Aer lingus
Aer lingus is on the verge of re-inventing itself with massive redundancy payments to the cosseted workers to eliminate the restrictive practices which made it a case for bankruptcy in the first place. I gather that the same workers will be “re-employed” within an instant of getting their huge payoffs-under new conditions of flexibility of work hours etc. Not only do these fat cat former semi state employees now own a chunk of a company which they have obligingly rescued from ruin-they have a nice nest egg in the bank to tide them over until they get their generous pensions.!… Read more »
Pull the Knickers off Aer Lingus thats what I say! Release the hounds! The company has the brain of an overweight public servant dying with a hangover on a monday morning sickie, Aer Lingus baggage handlers are paid better than Doctors for God Sake! Even the “Cabin Crew” are bet down make- up monkeys too old to be allowed fly.
O’Leary is great, he’s the real deal and he pays his Tax in Ireland not like DMcWs Noble Knight paymaster.
You are wrong of course. No Irish Mammy in her right mind would allow her daughter reject the overtures of a fella with strong cashflows, good prospects, a farm near Mullingar and a herd of prize Aberdeen Angus, even if he was a bit lippy.
The penny seems not to have dropped for many of you guys. You are equating good management with high profit…profit born out of being let provide a rubbish service with awful contracts to employees. Ireland has one of the poorest labour laws in Europe and we are a bunch of non-complainers – Ryan Air is just another example of Rip Off Republic which flourished over the last 10 years based on this Irish idiocy. Remarkably, many of you seem not to vaguely understand the real cost of end to end travel which includes access to the end points. They cancel… Read more »
b, You talk like a petulant 12 year old, try talking like an adult. Why do you think Ryanair is so desperate to get Aer Lingus? Because they are the ones who are running out of choices maybe? What hasn’t grown like wildfire in the last 10 years? The best-run companies in the world don’t treat their employees like Ryanair does. Sure they have a strong board and management, but everyone else is disposable. Also, bosses at well-run companies don’t run around making clowns of themselves. O’Leary is no Branson much as he tries. Still, I agree he has done… Read more »
If the Ryanair service is that bad, why are people voting with their feet and using the service? It is what it is.
[…] David McWilliams thinks that the Irish public is being a little unrealistic in its assessment of the Ryanair bid. He is right. The comments give an indication of how unrealistic the public is. But the reality is that Aer Lingus is a minnow in a world of eagles and it has to be bought by somebody if it is to avoid the disastrous fate of Alitalia and many other flag carriers before it. […]
Much rather see O’Leary in charge of Aer Lingus than BA or anyone else. That been said if he controls 80% of the traffic out of Dublin the government should have the ability to say or nay to any ‘mischief’ that he might get upto. Say what you want about O’Leary but Ryanairs record speaks for itself and they have survived and prospered and have nt let the big boys in Europe push them out of the market when others could have folded. Interesting to see that the government are actually considering his proposal and as they seem to be… Read more »
I couldn’t give two ….s whether O’Leary (Sir Freddie Laker reincarnated ) is or not the most successful aviation/otherwise businessmen in Ireland. Youngest brother I’d tap him first, then I come behind hi, and the next thing he’d find or fell more like is his two legs broken in the most painful place the shinbone. Running a (especially a transport) business based on shareholder interest alone has got to be idiot. Has the banking investment system not brought anything “home yet?“ Eventually it’ll be stand-up room to get more on board. I can’t stand his indifference to the pollution issue.… Read more »
COMMENT by b: Paddy here threatening to break his legs for being successful No, absolutely not. I have no problem with people getting rich, the very best to them really. I wouldn’t mind having a few bob above and beyond myself. However, I have a big problem with how people make their money. I believe in fare and open competition (no Declan Ganly shenanigans) in offering services of any/every kind and likewise fare treatment; a decent concern for workers. Once ethics are disregarded by either party all suffer in the end as we are right now. More than patriotism is… Read more »
irish rail…….they had 750 people working for them last year …its now 550 …soon 200 more will be laid off…..this organisation should be increasing employment and having 2000 people working for them ….DMCW …please do a report on this matter as it is causing a great loss to the taxpayer and environmental supporters ……they lost the contract with Irish Cement …now all cement nationally is brought by road ..a stop should be put to this immediately
Why always talk in terms of doing worse (a bit like the man himself O’Leary) when you could be doing better. Yes I know you know like – I do – I said- “it’s business.” That’s maybe the good thing of things going back – to zero interest rates the good old bad old days with the knowledge that it doesn’t work now going forward the it did then, and the dismantling of regulation in banking/business, the Union in the work place. The balance is lost if you do so. Simple if you ask yourself why do we have men… Read more »
b and paddy etc…
Take it easy on the slagging each other.
is it me or is b becoming tedious to read?
As if the latest Roy Keane news hasn’t put us Corkonians in a bad enough mood already, Heineken announce tonight that they are closing down Beamish and Crawford Brewery, an act of cultural vandalism as well as a monumental blow to the stout market. Beamish is a great drink, beloved of so many corkonians, and I noticed of an increasing number of old time dubs too. Besides, it was 50c cheaper on average than guinness and murphys, so went down well for all you “competition works” maniacs. There has been a brewery on the site since the 1600s, making it… Read more »
Da Wu Yu Code ( extract only ) – the feeling of presence in Merrion Square is one of before it was built ; there was nothing .This period before Fianna Fail marked the election to the Dail was before time as we know it .Before time and throughout time there has been a self existing being ( electorate ) – eternal ,infinite , complete ,omnipresent .This being cannot be named or phrased , because human speech only applies to perceptible beings . Walking around Merrion Square one can only sense that the primodial being was primitively and, is still,… Read more »
” The New Fianna Testament” :The Beatitudes, according to Saint Bertie and the Soldiers of Destiny. And Bertie and Beverly were reconciled on the day that Bertie led his followers (wealthy farmers,despised refuse tax collectors, building speculators,and rich merchants) up a high mountain in the Land of Flynn,(Croagh Patrick) where they paused to rest. ,He addressed them in these words; ‘Look around you,my disciples…all this, I give to those of you who worship me.Verily I say unto you;- “Blessed are the young people , who have been priced out of the home ownership market,by corruption,nepotism,stroke politics, and well connected builders… Read more »
Merrion Square, they, like the rest of the Island, just adopted anything they saw or heard from the UK. The UK adopted their habits from the US. So, our US ancestors shaped this nation. The area of Dublin that I live in, resembles Essex these days. The only thing missing is the Cockney twangs, everything else looks like Essex. We are a cheap copy, a satelite town, and we are about as Celtic as a Polish man. We are not Tiger’s, unless this symbol or animal stands for being greedy and cheap.
Getting back to the Ryanair takeover. Their latest offer smells of desperation. The low cost model is showing problems and they are afraid to admit it. People simply do not want to travel now. People are keeping their credit card in their pockets. The effects will not be seen until after the Christmas rush. Aerlingus with its broader market/ coverage, more sophisticated support infrastructure (though costly) looks like it might come out the other end and O’Leary sees it like the true trader he is. You see, when you keep on cutting, you find you have no slack or loyalty.… Read more »
Philip – Great Insight