Ryanair's chief executive says Muslim men should be profiled at airports

Irish budget airline's boss says most airport security measures are “utterly useless"

FILE - In this Wednesday March 26, 2014 file photo, Chief Executive of Dublin based airline Ryanair, Michael O'Leary poses during an interview in London.  O’Leary is facing criticism for suggesting Muslim men should be singled out for extra scrutiny checks at airports, following his interview published Saturday Feb. 22, 2020, in Times of London. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

Muslim men should be profiled at airports because “that is where the threat is coming from”, Michael O’Leary, the chief executive of Ryanair, said in an interview with The Times.

The boss of Europe's largest airline said that if such profiling tactics were used to prevent terrorism, it would “generally be males of a Muslim persuasion” who would be flagged, according to a February 22 interview with the newspaper. He added that most airport security measures deployed now are "utterly useless."

"Who are the bombers? They are going to be single males travelling on their own. If you are travelling with a family of kids, on you go; the chances you are going to blow them all up is... zero," Mr O'Leary said. "You can’t say stuff, because it’s racism, but it will generally be males of a Muslim persuasion. Thirty years ago, it was the Irish. If that is where the threat is coming from, deal with the threat."

Dublin-based Ryanair said in a statement that The Times' story headline was incorrect.

"The headline in today's paper is simply inaccurate. No call for extra checks on any group or persons was made," a Ryanair spokesman said in an emailed statement to The National. "Michael was only calling for more effective airport security checks which would do away with much of the unnecessary queues at airport security today for all passengers. He apologises sincerely for any offence caused to any group by today's inaccurate headline."

A spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain accused Mr O’Leary of making discriminatory remarks, expressing disappointment that “the CEO of a large airline would so want to discriminate against his customers so brazenly," Bloomberg reported.

The Irish budget airline operates routes to Muslim-majority countries such as Jordan and Turkey.