Europe Economy

Fire 'Overpaid' Air Traffic Controllers: Ryanair CEO

Ireland's government should be tougher on striking "overpaid" public workers if it wants to help the country get out of the economic recession, Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary told CNBC Thursday.

Thousands of passengers were affected as the country's main airports in Dublin, Shannon and Cork were shut because of the strike which lasted four hours.

"The air traffic controllers are simply a bunch of overpaid, underworked public servants but they're typical for the problem in Ireland," O'Leary said.

He said traffic controllers' demands for a pay raise of 6 percent were unreasonable because they earn 160,000 euros a year ($224,000) and inflation is negative.

Fire 'Overpaid' Air Traffic Controllers: Ryanair CEO

"Use the bloody law. We should arrest the air traffic controllers or better still, sack them," he said.

"If you don't want to work for 160,000 a year and you want a 6 percent pay increase, go and we'll get some people who will do the job," he added.

- Watch the full interview with Michael O'Leary above.

He cited President Ronald Reagan's firing of striking air traffic controllers in the early 1980s.

"We should do the same thing here, but for that we need politicians with leadership and with spine and sadly, in Ireland we have very few politicians that have either leadership or spines," O'Leary said.