Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary gets hit in the face by cream cakes during a press briefing outside the EU Commission, in Brussels, Belgium September 7, 2023, in this screengrab obtained from a handout video. Image Credit: Reuters

Brussels: The outspoken chief of Ryanair Holdings Plc was pelted with cream pies by environmental activists while preparing for his airline's own protest at European Commission headquarters in Belgium.

Michael O'Leary was sorting out boxes alongside a cardboard cutout of EC President Ursula von der Leyen when an activist suddenly approached and smeared a cream pie across his face. Her attack was quickly followed by another, landing this time to the back of his head, according to a video posted on social media.

The activists shouted "Welcome in Belgium" and told him to stop pollution with planes. O'Leary, covered in cream, replied "Well done," then removed his jacket and continued preparing for his event.

O'Leary was in Brussels to promote Ryanair's petition urging the EC to protect overflights across Europe when air-traffic controllers go on strike. The Irish discounter was forced to cancel hundreds of flights this summer because of ATC strikes, and has said more than 1 million people have signed its petition.

"I have never had such a warm welcome," O'Leary said after the attack, according to a report in the Belgian newspaper La DerniAre Heure. "Unfortunately it was environmentalists and the cream was artificial. I invite passengers to come to Ireland where the cream is better!"

Ryanair later posted a picture of O'Leary with cream on his face.

"Instead of buying cream pies, could have bought a flight from Belgium for the same price," the airline said.