Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary’s headline-grabbing demand that aircraft co-pilots be replaced by cabin crew has been shot down by a senior pilot at the cost-conscious carrier.

Captain Morgan Fischer has proposed O’Leary himself be replaced by a junior cabin crew member, pointing out this would save “millions of euros in salary, benefits and stock options”.

A Ryanair pilot trainer, based in Marseilles, Captain Fisher countered O’Leary’s claim that co-pilots be dispensed with because “the computer does most of the flying now” in a letter to the Financial Times.

Captain Fisher wrote: “I propose Ryanair replace the chief executive with a probationary cabin crew member earning about euro13,200 a year.” He suggested the position of chief executive “could become a source of ancillary revenue” since Ryanair charges new recruits euro3,000 for their own training and “could similarly charge for the training to become chief executive”.

A Ryanair spokesman said: “We are going to seriously look at the suggestion. If we can train cabin crew to land the plane, it should be no problem training them to do Michael’s job.”

O’Leary claimed last week that the risk of incapacitation did not merit having two crew in the cockpit, suggesting Ryanair had suffered only one pilot heart attack in 25 years.

That was disputed by the president of the Irish Airline Pilots Association Evan Cullen, also in a letter to the Financial Times. Cullen pointed out more than one Ryanair pilot had been incapacitated at the controls and one had been pronounced clinically dead soon after takeoff.