Ryanair pilot proposes new no-frills idea - sack the boss

A pilot for budget carrier Ryanair came up with a new money-saving idea Tuesday after the firm suggested axing co-pilots on flights - replace the airline's boss with a flight attendant.

Captain Morgan Fischer, a senior pilot based in Marseilles, southern France, mounted the rare public challenge after the latest cost-cutting proposal from his boss, Michael O'Leary.

The Irish airline's outspoken chief executive has generated headlines with a string of ideas that have cemented Ryanair's reputation as the leading no-frills carrier, from "fat taxes" to coin-operated toilets.

But news that he is trying to persuade authorities to let his aircraft fly with just one pilot - claiming that a flight attendant could do the job of a co-pilot if needed - appears to have gone too far for some.

In a letter to the Financial Times newspaper, Fischer said he was aware of the company's desire to reduce costs "whenever feasible" to keep ticket prices down for the travelling public.

"I would propose that Ryanair replace the chief executive with a probationary cabin crew member currently earning about 13,200 euros (17,000 dollars, 11,000 pounds) net a year," wrote the 41-year-old.

"Ryanair would benefit by saving millions of euros in salary, benefits and stock options," he said, adding there would be no need to get approval from regulators for the appointment.

In a typically mischievous response, O'Leary conceded that a flight attendant would be a "far more attractive" chief executive and said the suggestion was being seriously examined.

"Michael thinks that cabin crew would make a far more attractive CEO than him - this obviously isn't a very high bar - so we are going to seriously look at the suggestion," Ryanair spokesman Stephen McNamara was quoted as saying in the FT.

"After all, if we can train cabin crew to land the plane, it should be no problem training them to do Michael's job as well."

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