The CEO of Ryanair, Michael O’Leary, was pied in the face during a Thursday visit to Brussels in a stunt by climate activists.
O’Leary was outside the European Commission preparing to deliver a petition calling for “overflights” to be protected during air traffic control strikes when he was hit with cream pies by two climate campaigners.
The airline boss has urged European leaders to allow flights traveling through French airspace — but not taking off or landing on French soil — to be exempt from restrictions imposed following a strike by air traffic controllers in that country.
Ryanair says it has so far collected 1.8 million signatures on its online petition from members of the public.
The incident was captured on video, and the activists can be heard shouting: “Welcome in Belgium. Stop the pollution of the f**king planes.”
Last year, aviation accounted for 2% of global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions, according to the International Energy Agency.
After being pied, the head of Europe’s largest airline carried on talking to the media outside the EU building, saying, “We’re here to discuss the petition. I love cream cakes. They’re my favorite.”
He then licked some of the cream off his hands and added, “It’s delicious cake.”
The low-cost airline also commented on the stunt: “Shame it was soy-based cream, definitely not as tasty as the real stuff,” the company said on the social media platform “X,” formerly known as Twitter.
The company reported profit of €663 million ($735 million) for the three months ending in June — nearly four times higher than in the same period last year, when bookings were badly affected by Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.