.Everyone is affected by burglary - burglars are costing us millions of pounds, even if you have never been burgled you have certainly been financially affected by burglars. Yet we can all do more to reduce the cost of burglary, both financial and emotional.
.Some thieves make detailed plans and research their target, generally because the target is special in some way. It may be a supermarket, a shop, a warehouse a garage,or even an airline.! Some burglars come into the category of "opportunist". Even politicians have been targetted by this category of thieves,who take advantage of political ineptness and lack of care of a marginal constituency.
In May 2006, perhaps the most daring attempted robbery in history took place at Collinstown County Dublin. An entire airline was targeted; lock, rolling stock & barrel.! The thieves fled empty handed when they were intercepted by vigilent McDowell police reservists, who were patrolling in the area,at the time.
"the daring thieft attempt was certainly the work of former staff who would had inside knowledge of the whole operation" declared Bertie Ahern in the Dail.
Suspicion centres on four rival gangs.
One outfit "The Soldiers of Destiny" are known to have tremendous political power and influence across the land. The boss is reputed to deal only in cash.He has been repeatedly interviewed over the Aer Lingus affair, and other incidents, in recent years, but has never appeared in a court of law.
The "SIPTU gang" are also suspected of involvement. Their members have infiltrated the airline at every level,and have a long history of hijacking taxpayers money.They are extremely organized,and specialize in blackmail and extortion
The third but least likely suspect is the "Willie Walsh Gang" , a cunning bunch of capitalist operators in the mould of the infamous "Michael OLeary Bunch".
The "Michael OLeary Bunch" are perhaps the most dangerous. Oleary is a particularly ruthless character.His tentacles and malign influence extend across Europe. He respects no "turf" boundaries ,and he has brought numerious rival operators to their knees in "blood-on-the carpet" struggles for domination of foreign markets. He has introduced gambling and other racketeering (drugs such as alcohol laced beverages) to the "Mile High Club".
British Airways have been warned by the government to be on the lookout as it is believed that their aircraft may be targeted by the Willie Walsh Gang, some of whom have been recently sighted loitering around the British Airways headquarters building in London.
Ryanair said that even if the raid had succeded, the employees jobs would have been safe,as they had numerous vacancies but they would have had to cancel their S.I.P.T.U. membership to avail of the new positions.
Former C.E.O. of Aer Lingus,Willie Walsh who was interviewed by Gardai in connection with the incident denied all wrongdoing, and expressed his relief when notified of his dismissal some years ago, (allegedly,by those he considers the airline,s real bosses, (S.I.P.T.U.) before he had an opportunity to make a buyout offer .
"Bertie, Martin Cullen, and SIPTU, saved my bacon. You could'nt give the company away right now" he declared.! "Mark my words by next year it will be a basket case once again".
Well ,Martin did give over half the company away the following year.
In September 2006 the airline underwent a "pseudo privatization" in which the employees were handed a large chunk gratis and the rest of the shares were sold at a bargain basement price- little more,in fact, than the value of the Heathrow landing slots they own.They are becoming worthless by the day as Heathrow deteriorates into "The Airport from Hell"
Turf wars erupted when Michael OLeary,( boss of the rival gang, and hostile to Willie Walsh) made a daring hijack attempt after Walsh failed in his bid, and Martin Cullen (chief "Capo" for the Soldiers of Destiny gang) was ordered to relinquish his controlling interest when the European Mafia families met "held parliament" in Brussels to encourage freedom of movement for all gang members in their extensive fiefdoms, and a neo-loberal, capitalist agenda, in hopes that the S.I.P.T.U. gang and their counterparts across Europe would lose control of European airlines.
Mr O,Leary is known to have influential friends in the European Comission but some of them have been nobbled it is believed. Brussels opposed his daring raid. In the event that Mr O'Leary's hijacking attempt is eventually successful-which looks increasingly likely- he will present his radical job reduction plans on a take-it-or-leave-it basis to the Aer Lingus trade unions. Expect more excitement in the coming months.!
Aer Lingus currently employs 3,475 people, has 8m passengers and a €72m profit.
Ryanair has only 3,063 employees, but flies 39m passengers every year and makes a €375m profit.
CONFRONTATION comes easily to Michael O'Leary, chief executive of Ryanair. He does not care whom he offends and does not bother with normal business conventions: if he has something to say, he will say it. It is not because he likes the sound of his own voice, or because he craves attention. He attacks because he has a company to defend and a point to make.
The European Commission, which has blocked his proposed takeover of Aer Lingus and which is now threatening to investigate a number of regional airports because of the deals they have struck with Ryanair, is no stranger to his vitriol.
When it decided three years ago that Ryanair's agreements with Charleroi airport near Brussels fell foul of state-aid regulations, O'Leary described the commissioners as acting like dictators and of being in the pockets of the major airlines.
His latest attack follows the same line - while the EUpursues him for possible breaches of the state-aid rules with airports, he claims that it has failed to tackle much larger handouts to airlines like Air France, Lufthansa,Olympic Airways and Alitalia.
As is usual with O'Leary, he has a point: while the commission cracks down on the incentives paid by regional airports to attract low cost airlines, it appears unconcerned by the vast, if often hidden and indirect, subsidies that flow to bigger, and formerly state-owned, airlines.
The question, though, that first came to surface in the immediate aftermath of the original Charleroi row, and which raises its head whenever O'Leary launches a fresh broadside against the commissioners or government ministers, is whether O'Leary is damaging rather than protecting his company by opening his mouth.
Inevitably, too, the rows create renewed speculation about O'Leary's future at the airline which he has transformed from a small, struggling regional carrier into Europe's dominant low cost airline.
Is it time for a more traditional chief executive to steer Ryanair through its latest phase as a mature and highly profitable airline? And would it make any difference?
The questions are made more pointed by O'Leary's own willingness to stoke speculation about his future. He has said frequently that he will leave Ryanair within the next few years, and that when he goes it will be a clean break. He does not propose to stay on the board and look over the new chief executive's shoulder, and he recognises that there will come a time when the airline needs a different style of management.
Choosing the exit point, however, is not as easy as making a general prediction, and he has yet to fulfil his stated ambition of making Ryanair Europe's largest airline.
It will, however, be his decision. While some commentators may mutter about the aggressiveness of his stewardship, his shareholders will not push him out.
They know that it is fanciful to believe that a more emollient chief executive would dissuade the European Commission from investigating potential breaches of its rules on state aid or that being nicer to commissioners would somehow change the outcome of any investigation.
It may be true that Ryanair's bid for Aer Lingus would have had a far greater chance of success if it had been endorsed rather than opposed by the Irish government, but for Ryanair to have won the Irish government's approval it would have to have been a company that also appealed to the trade unions. And if it had been that type of company, it would never have got into a position to acquire Aer Lingus in the first place.
Only a Ryanair that was not a Ryanair could have secured government support.
The plain truth is that O'Leary remains an asset, not a liability, to his company. His restlessness stops it from slipping into corporate middle age and prevents it from wallowing in hubris.
His aggression with the European Commission may irritate the bureaucrats in Brussels, but it also sets up Ryanair as the champion of competition and low fares and places the commission on the side of high fares.
It may be an illusion, but it works and it makes them uncomfortable.
In Ireland, O'Leary's constant attacks on government - and in particular on Bertie Ahern - may not have delivered him the victories he wanted, but they have positioned Ryanair in the public's mind as the enemy of waste and indecision.
He unsettles Ahern because he is right, not because he is loud. O'Leary's campaign for an independent second terminal at Dublin airport may have been doomed to failure from the outset - the unions would never have accepted it - but it has highlighted Ahern's snail-paced decision-making and has exposed his government to ridicule.
And, all the while, Ryanair's brand as a low-cost, low-fares airline is embellished by his noise.
The time for change will, inevitably, come, but that time will be chosen by O'Leary. Although he still owns a significant chunk of Ryanair shares, he has consistently sold shares over the years to create a personal fortune that is independent of the airline. There is nothing that binds him to the company other than a desire to fulfil his ambitions and, perhaps, a fear of what would come next.
It may seem like O'Leary has been around for ever, but he is still a relatively young man and is not the retiring type. It is hard to imagine him whiling away his days as a serial director of companies, or being satisfied by farming or breeding horses.
CRACKING the low-cost transatlantic market sounds like a suitable role after Ryanair, but until the price of planes comes tumbling down it is unlikely to move from drawing board to reality. Without him, Ryanair would certainly be a quieter airline. It would, too, continue to run smoothly - swimming unseen below the surface is a highly skilled and committed management team - but it would incrementally lose its edge.
Ryanair's success has been driven by O'Leary's relentless competitiveness and by his determination to drive its costs ever lower. He leaves no room for competitors to undercut him and instils an ethos that pervades the company.
It is unique and it cannot be copied. All across the world new airlines are trying to understand and replicate Ryanair's success, but none can match the simplicity of O'Leary's business model. They all want to be Ryanair, but nicer; they want to have low fares and low costs, but they also want to be liked. O'Leary really doesn't care whether you like him or not: what he wants are lower costs, low fares, loads of passengers and high profits. He doesn't care if he looks foolish, or if the European Commission takes offence, or if the Taoiseach is upset, or if your mother has forgotten her passport. His job is to make his company more successful, and he does whatever it takes.
He is, undoubtedly, a one-off and his shareholders know that while he can and will be replaced, he cannot be replicated. For the moment, though, they should hope that he chooses to stay put. Ryanair may be Europe's most successful airline, but the next few years could be turbulent ones. The European industry is on the verge of another revolution, this one prompted by the liberalisation of the skies between Europe and the United States, and there are certain to be casualties and mergers on the way.
O'Leary remains the best man to guide Ryanair through it all, shouting and screaming when required, and determined to keep it at least one step ahead of all its rivals.
Alan Ruddock is the author of 'Michael O'Leary: A Life in Full Flight', to be published on July 26
- Alan Ruddock
If you had bought Aer Lingus shares 12 months ago-you would now be almost back at ground zero-the flotation price!
IN IRELAND the devil does not wear Prada: he wears jeans and check shirts, swears quite a bit and launches an audacious takeover bid for a national treasure. Step forward Michael O'Leary, the Ryanair chief executive whose swoop for control of Aer Lingus has generated a firestorm of hostility, with politicians and union spokesmen banding together to denounce his plans.
At a stroke, O'Leary has turned our world upside down: thePDs and Sinn Fein unite on economic policy, our great trade union barons preach the virtues of competition and everyone is concerned with the rights of the consumer.
If Ryanair takes control of Aer Lingus, we are told, the sky will fall on our heads. O'Leary will have a private monopoly, competition will be eradicated and prices will rise. Before long we will be back in the dark days (pre-Ryanair) when it cost a month's wages to fly to London, and air travel will once again become the preserve of the business classes.!!
The arguments against O'Leary are so passionately aired, and stated with such certainty, that you wonder why he bothered spending a quarter of a billion euros on his near 20 per cent stake, and why he continues to go through the motions of tabling a formal offer for the outstanding shares in the company.
If he had only asked Joe Higgins, the apoplectic Socialist TD, or Jack O'Connor, the Siptu leader who believes that Ryanair has done nothing for Irish aviation, he would have found out that his bid had no chance of success and would have saved himself both trouble and money. And yet, fool that he is, O'Leary ploughs on, enjoying every moment of the mayhem that he has unleashed.
Critics have suggested that O'Leary is just having a laugh, that he is so careless of his shareholders' money that he is prepared to use it for his personal amusement. Or, they say, his tactic is simply to sow confusion in the ranks of his great rival and, by building an aggressive stake, hobble it. Instead of concentrating on expansion and renewal, Aer Lingus's management team will be diverted and weakened, allowing O'Leary an uncluttered run at achieving organically the dominance that a successful bid would deliver and leaving the national airline as little more than Aer Limbo. Neat theories, and the second one is plausible if O'Leary's bid fails or is thwarted by regulators. But they ignore a few simple points.
O'Leary's success has, for some reason, always been underplayed in his home country. Ryanair is, without question, Europe's most successful airline, growing at a pace and a profitability that is breathtaking. It now dwarfs Aer Lingus, carrying seven times more passengers in Europe and adding them at such a rate that this year's growth will be equal to Aer Lingus's total number of passengers.
O'Leary's Ryanair is consistently profitable - almost unheard of in the airline industry - and drives those profits higher by driving its costs ever lower. Its growing dominance comes not from government protection, as in the old days, but from those low costs: it can charge fares that allow it to make a handsome profit, but which make other airlines bleed because their costs are significantly higher. With or without control of Aer Lingus, Ryanair's share of the market from Ireland to Europe will continue to grow as it launches more routes and sets aggressively low prices.
So why buy Aer Lingus? It was cheap (the average price of O'Leary's shares is close to 240¢), it has plenty of room for cost-cutting and it would provide an immediate and substantial lift to Ryanair's profits. If Aer Lingus had not been privatised, O'Leary could have stuck with his previous strategy of picking off its best routes and undercutting its prices, but privatisation gave it the cash to withstand those attacks for a few years at least and forced a change of tactic.
But what about competition? O'Leary's legion of critics argues that Europe's regulators must block his bid because the combined Ryanair-Aer Lingus will have 70 per cent of the Dublin-London market, and more than 50 per cent of many other routes. On the surface it seems a slam-dunk, but Europe may take a different view.
Airlines across Europe are being forced into mergers because, in large part, of the pressures exerted by Ryanair and its fellow low cost airlines such as easyJet. Air France and KLM merged three years ago, and are now set to swallow Alitalia, the lumbering Italian airline. British Airways and Iberia have joined forces, as have Lufthansa and SAS, the Scandinavian group.
Consolidation is the way forward and Europe's regulators will be wary of creating a precedent that could stymie future mergers. As bigger and bigger groupings emerge, local monopolies are inevitable but these monopolies are no longer fixed in stone, as they were when Aer Lingus ruled the skies over the Irish Sea. Deregulation has meant that anyone can launch an air service from Dublin to anywhere in Europe, and set as low a price as they dare. It is a strategy that Ryanair pursues. - Last week, while the attention was on its Aer Lingus bid, it opened its third base in Spain and will intensify its assault on Iberia's home market and the key Madrid-Barcelona route.
In a liberalised, deregulated market the barriers to entry are few and the key to dominance is ticket price, not red-tape and regulation. If a merged Ryanair/Aer Lingus abused its dominant position by raising prices, that dominance would be challenged by a rival. The Dublin-London route is too lucrative to be left in the hands of a high price monopolist.
Those who claim that O'Leary would, in time, extort the Irish consumer also ignore that Ryanair's success has been built on low fares. It wants large numbers of passengers because it gouges so much money out of them once they've bought their ticket: through baggage charges, or its cut from their car hire or hotel room. It is a volume business, rooted in low costs and the honey-trap of low fares.
For establishment Ireland, though, Ryanair is a pariah. O'Leary's success offends politicians, trade unionists and traditional business leaders because he has achieved it while laughing at their hallowed social partnership model. He has contempt for them all, and he never hesitates to show it. And in their universally hostile and confused reaction to his bid, they prove his case.
Why is it political death for an Irish politician to champion Ireland's most successful company? Why can no politician say that Aer Lingus's future is best secured by being owned by the world's best managed airline, and one that also happens to be Irish? And why does the union agenda hold such sway over every political party?
The government sends Martin Cullen to Brussels to lobby against an Irish company and implies that it would welcome a foreign predator with open arms. Trade unions talk of competition as if it ran through their core, yet will fight tooth and nail to prevent a break-up of the ESB, or of Dublin Bus, or private sector engagement with the health service. Politicians line up behind the unions.
And through it all is the unmistakable whiff of panic. The government, and Cullen in particular, mishandled the Aer Lingus privatisation because it could not make up its mind. It failed to back Walsh when he was in a position to lead a strong Aer Lingus to the market and it never seemed to understand why it needed to sell its stake in the airline, or what the consequences would be. Privatisation needed real conviction and clear strategy, not reluctance and fudge.
The longer it waited, and the more concessions the unions extracted, the weaker and cheaper Aer Lingus became, and the more vulnerable too. Now the government sits on a minority stake, faced by the devil in denim, and it does not know what to do. So it bleats to Brussels, denigrates Ireland's most successful company and panders to the unions who hold back the growth of those sectors of the economy that they control. It hangs its defence on the mantra of competition, yet fails to enforce it where it can, and fails to grasp the dynamics of an aviation market in which it was such a dominant player for decades.
O'Leary may not win control - the regulators may find a way to block him, or the pilots and their friends may continue to overpay for shares - but he will win the war. Without him as a controlling shareholder, Aer Lingus is doomed to a higher cost base and a steadily eroding competitive presence, its ambitions stymied by its own inadequacies and by the hostile presence of O'Leary on its board (remember how JP McManus and John Magnier tied Manchester United in knots?).
If Cullen and Ahern truly cared about Aer Lingus, cared about Irish aviation and cared about the consumer, they would emerge from the union-befuddled state and back a takeover that has the potential to create a vibrant, aggressive and low fares Irish airline company of a scale and presence that can compete on the global stage. If they do not, then Ryanair will continue untroubled on its own growth path, and they (and the pilots' pension fund) will beleft with a large chunk of shares in Aer Limbo.
Alan Ruddock(Sunday Independent)
The truth is this posturing of Fianna Fail V Ryanair is about votes, and particularly about a marginal seat in a constituency in north county Dublin: It is About a party in hock to too many vested interests,unions and speculators alike: a party devoid of any principles;a party lining its own pockets, and determined to retain power reguardless of the vast minority who will pay a dear price for their re-election. They are buying huge swathes of the electorate.They are unashamedly buying an election with pork barrel tactics,just as their leader unashamedly took money from all his cronies.
RYANAIR chief Michael O'Leary has written to Aer Lingus shareholders urging them to abandon their "dismal" airline and sell out to Ryanair.
The letter expresses "serious doubts" about Aer Lingus management's ability to deliver on cost cutting plans, and accuses the airline's board of "misleading" shareholders.
O'Leary's move is seen as a last ditch attempt to revive Ryanair's floundering takeover bid for Aer Lingus. The bid, which is due to expire in seven days, had attracted acceptances from less than 1pc of Aer Lingus shareholders by December 4.
"Ryanair believes that the board of Aer Lingus may have misled the selling shareholder and ultimately the people of Ireland by agreeing to a price of €2.20 at the IPO [when the airline first floated]," the letter says.
"Alternatively, they may be misleading the shareholders now in recommending you reject the Ryanair Offer of €2.80 because it 'significantly undervalues Aer Lingus'. O'Leary also used the letter to launch another stinging criticism on Aer Lingus ability to deliver on its cost cutting plans, dubbed the 'Plan for Continuous Improvement'.
"In the last four weeks Aer Lingus management appear to have made little progress on their cost reduction plan, beyond changing its name," he said.
"The Second Circular [a document issued by Aer Lingus to its shareholders] fails to give details of how these costs will be reduced, when these costs reductions will be implemented, and how much these cost savings will amount to, and will add to increased profitability. Ryanair has serious doubts as to whether Aer Lingus' cost savings will be ultimately deliverable."
Aer Lingus shareholders should also be "gravely concerned" about the airline's "dismal performance" in the first half of 2006, O'Leary warned. He claimed that Aer Lingus lost €8.2m in the first half of 2006, down from a profit of €46m in the first half of 2005. Aer Lingus' IPO document shows that underlying profits were flat between the first half of 2006 and the same period of 2005; however, profits expressed in IFRS terms were down by the amounts mentioned by Ryanair.
Another cause of concern was the recent fall in average number of passengers on Aer Lingus planes, known as the load factor.
In September 2006 Aer Lingus' load factors were down 4.4pc year on year, while in October they were down 4.1pc on the previous year.
O'Leary also dismissed Aer Lingus' claim that it had 'excellent growth prospects'.
"Aer Lingus has persistently presented Open Skies as the cornerstone of its long-haul growth opportunities . . . the prospect of Open Skies has suffered yet another setback and with it Aer Lingus new route growth prospects," he said.
Laura Noonan(Irish Independent)