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Airline CEO: Seatbelts 'don't matter,' advocates planes with 'standing room only'

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Michael O'Leary is the CEO of Ryanair. (Source: Lamos/Wikimedia) Michael O'Leary is the CEO of Ryanair. (Source: Lamos/Wikimedia)
Ryanair is a low-cost airline operating within Europe. (Source: Arpingstone/Wikimedia) Ryanair is a low-cost airline operating within Europe. (Source: Arpingstone/Wikimedia)
The cabins of Ryanair's planes are distinct, covering the overhead bins in ads and posting safety instructions in the backs of headrests. (Source: Ruthann/Wikimedia) The cabins of Ryanair's planes are distinct, covering the overhead bins in ads and posting safety instructions in the backs of headrests. (Source: Ruthann/Wikimedia)

(RNN) - "Ladies and gentlemen, the captain has turned on the fasten seatbelt sign."

For many frequent fliers, it's instinct to buckle up when you take your seat. But if one airline CEO had his way, passengers might not even have a seat, let alone a seatbelt.

Michael O'Leary is the CEO of Ryanair, an Irish low-cost carrier serving budget travelers within Europe. The airline is notorious for its budget-cutting strategies, including seats without the ability to incline, advertisements on overhead bins, and safety cards stuck on the back of seats.

In a recent interview with the London Daily Telegraph, O'Leary spoke about his desire to create a "standing room only" cabin aboard Ryanair's planes.

"If there ever was a crash on an aircraft, God forbid, a seatbelt won't save you. Seatbelts don't matter." said O'Leary. "You don't need a seatbelt on the London Underground. You don't need a seatbelt on trains which are traveling at 120 mph, and if they crash you're all dead…"

Passengers traveling in the standing cabin would pay fares as low as one British pound, or $1.59.In return, O'Leary said they would have to "hang on to the handle" during landing.

Space for the new section would come from removing 10 rows of seats in the back of each aircraft, according to O'Leary.

Although Ryanair's proposed standing cabins could increase revenue and save travelers money, European safety laws make it nothing more than a dream.

Current regulations imposed by the European Aviation Safety Agency require all passengers to have their seatbelt fastened during taxi, takeoff and landing. O'Leary has been an outspoken opponent of certain safety laws, citing that passengers "should be able to choose from a safety perspective."  

O'Leary added that air travel should no longer be a glamorous journey.

"The problem with aviation is that, for 50 years, it's been populated by people who think it's this wondrous sexual experience; that it's like James Bond and wonderful and we'll all be flying first class, when really it's just a bloody bus with wings."

Despite O'Leary's flamboyant statements, Ryanair has embraced his philosophy.

The airline made headlines in 2009 when O'Leary said he was considering charging passengers more than $1 to use the lavatory.

Although the airline never followed through with the idea, there is currently no European law that would prevent it.

Also in 2009, the airline got rid of airport check-in desks and began requiring all passengers to use online check-in. Passengers who don't print their boarding passes at home are charged about $95.

The airline also proposed removing two or three lavatories from each plane in 2011, replacing them with additional seats.

Ryanair reported a profit of more than $760.5 million in the first half of 2012, a 10 percent increase from last year.

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