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Need I say Moores

When KLM decided to take over Ryanair…

Five leading European airline CEOs had some fun during the recent Airlines for Europe (A4E) Aviation Summit, saying which rival airline they would like to run for a week and why.

During the final panel of the A4E event, easyJet CEO Johan Lundgren, International Airlines Group (IAG) CEO Willie Walsh, KLM CEO Pieter Elbers, Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr and Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary were all put on the spot by CNN anchor Richard Quest.

“Imagine you could take over the airline of one of your co-panellists for one week. Which one and why?” Quest asked, drawing a ripple of laughter from the audience. “Carsten…?”

Without a moment’s hesitation, Spohr said: “I would take Willie’s job, because I’m jealous of his home market,” picking IAG for his fictitious CEO role.

Walsh was up next. “I would take KLM and I would spend that week convincing them they should be part of IAG,” he said, triggering another wave of laughter and handing the baton to Elbers.

Seizing the opportunity to up the ante, the KLM CEO said: “I would take Ryanair and I would show customers that they can really have an enjoyable journey if they pay a few bucks more.”

“I changed my mind,” O’Leary retorted. “I was going to going to say I’d like to be Carsten, so I could see what it feels like to own Germany, Austria and Switzerland. I changed at the last minute to Peter, so I can encourage the Dutch government buy more of Air France.”

During the conference, O’Leary joked that he hoped the Dutch and French governments would get locked in a battle for control of Air France-KLM, because returning the group to government control would be good for rival airlines.

Lundgren from easyJet went last: “I’ll take all of them; I notice that nobody wanted to take easyJet.” When asked whether that was an insult or a compliment, Lundgren replied: “It’s a massive compliment.”

Victoria Moores victoria.moores@informa.com


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