Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary had to call for police protection after he provoked sacked Spanish airline workers.
O’Leary was escorted to his departure gate by armed guards after inciting a violent reaction from the unemployed Spanair workers. They protested after O’Leary arrived at Bilbao Airport to announce new routes to Barcelona and Madrid.
The additional Ryanair service is aimed at Spanair passengers after the Spanish airline went bust last week.
The redundant Spanair workers reacted angrily when O’Leary made a v-for-victory sign in their direction as they protested outside his press conference. Around 30 former Spanair workers tried to sabotage the press conference at the airport.
Local police were forced to step in after tempers flared as O’Leary made the victory sign in front of TV cameras in an apparent act of provocation according to reports.
Several workers surrounded O’Leary, swore at him, and gave him the middle finger as officers intervened.
They then held a sit-down protest after O’Leary departed for Madrid. Local union leader Jon Herrera accused the Ryanair boss of a lack of respect.
“He has stood in front of a group of workers who have lost their jobs overnight and raised his hand in a symbol of victory,” said Herrera. “He disgraced himself.”