22 Great Quotes From Airline CEOs

JetBlue Airways Passengers Board In Long Beach, California
Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images News/Getty Images
  1. "We've been needlessly irritating people."
    - Michael O'Leary, Ryanair

  2. "If you want to be a millionaire, start with a billion dollars and launch a new airline."
    - Sir Richard Branson, Virgin

  3. “We have a strategic plan. It’s called doing things.”
    - Herb Kelleher, Southwest Airlines

  4. “If the employees come first, then they’re happy…. A motivated employee treats the customer well. The customer is happy so they keep coming back, which pleases the shareholders. It’s not one of the enduring green mysteries of all time, it is just the way it works.”
    - Herb Kelleher, Southwest Airlines

  1. "…If I had known being nicer to our customers was going to work so well I would have done it years ago."
    - Michael O'Leary, Ryanair

  2. "These days no one can make money on the goddamn airline business. The economics represent sheer hell."
    - C. R. Smith, American Airlines

  3. "If the Wright brothers were alive today, Wilbur would have to fire Orville to reduce costs."
    -Herb Kelleher, Southwest Airlines (via skygod.com)

  4. "This is a nasty, rotten business."
    - Robert L. Crandall, American Airlines

  5. "I don't care what you cover the seats with as long as you cover them with assholes."
    -Eddie Rickenbacker, Eastern Airlines (via skygod.com)

  6. "This is the most important aviation development since Lindbergh's flight. In one fell swoop, we have shrunken the earth."
    - Juan Trippe, Pan Am, on jets (via skygod.com)

  7. "You absolutely, positively have to innovate-if only to survive."
    - Fred Smith, FedEx

  8. "People who invest in aviation are the biggest suckers in the world."
    - David G. Neeleman, JetBlue Airways

  1. "If we went into the funeral business, people would stop dying."
    - Martin R. Shugrue, Vice-chairman Pan Am

  2. "The airline industry is full of bullshitters, liars and drunks. We excel at all three in Ireland."
    - Michael O'Leary, Ryanair

  3. "Business opportunities are like buses; there's always another one coming."
    - Sir Richard Branson, Virgin

  1. "You can't have a mid-life crisis in the airline industry because every day is a crisis."
    - Herb Kelleher, Southwest Airlines

  2. "We've done a lot of research on how to make a business succeed, and we are very passionate about this. It's all we think about."
    -Tim Clark, Emirates Airlines

  3. "People say the customer is always right, but you know what - they're not. Sometimes they're wrong and they need to be told so."
    - Michael O'Leary, Ryanair

  4. "You can make a pizza so cheap, nobody will eat it. You can make an airline so cheap, nobody will fly it."
    - Gordon Bethune, Continental Airlines

  5. "We're a business-oriented airline. We love all our customers -- we just love some more than others, and those are the business travelers."
    - Jeff Smisek, United Airlines, via Fortune Magazine

  6. "I've got no more insight into where the [oil] price is going to go than any other person. If I knew that, I wouldn't be an airline executive, that's for sure."
    - Jeff Smisek, United Airlines, via Fortune Magazine

  7. "Investing in success is not a crime; blocking competition would be. The dark clouds of protectionism are gathering over Europe and the United States."
    - James Hogan, Etihad