Sunday 21 January 2018

Ryanair settles case over claims pilots worried about fuel policy

RYANAIR boss Michael O'Leary has said the safety record of his budget airline has been vindicated.

He was speaking outside Belfast High Court where the carrier settled a legal action over an article which claimed some pilots had raised concerns that a fuel policy may have put passengers at risk.

Mr O'Leary said: "Any airline can only survive on reputation of safety.

"It is one of the safest industries generally and as the Irish Aviation Authority has confirmed Ryanair's safety is on a par with the safest airlines in Europe - not the average but with the safest.

"Generally speaking we are content to allow the media or anybody else to make whatever claims they want but not inaccurate claims about our safety.

"We must and will continue to vigorously defend our outstanding safety record."

The terms of the settlement with Associated Newspapers which owns the Daily Mail were confidential and Mr O'Leary declined to disclose if any damages were awarded.

In court, Mr Justice Gillen accepted the case had been settled and permitted a lawyer for Associated Newspapers to read a brief statement.

Michael Kealey, who represented the media group, said they accepted Ryanair's 29-year safety record and that the airline had fully complied with EU regulations.

He said: "A recent article about Ryanair referred to claims made by a group describing itself as a Ryanair Pilot Group and other claims broadcast in a Channel 4 TV Dispatches programme.

"Ryanair does not accept the results of the survey conducted by the interim council of this group, whose chairman is a KLM pilot, or that the group represents the views of the majority of Ryanair's pilots.

"In relation to the three fuel emergency landings in Valencia over 12 months ago on July 26 we accept that the official report produced by the Irish safety agencies confirmed that all three aircraft took on extra fuel, all three aircraft flew for over one hour more than planned (due to adverse weather and diversions from Madrid to Valencia).

"All three aircraft fully complied with EU safety rules when landing safely in Valencia."

The statement also acknowledged that if Ryanair pilots had safety concerns they were told to report them.

Mr Kealey added: "Ryanair has made clear that if pilots have legitimate safety concerns they should report them either directly to Ryanair, or to the Irish Aviation Authority, using their confidential safety reporting systems.

"We also accept the recent confirmation issued by the independent Irish Aviation Authority that Ryanair's safety is on a par with the safest airlines in Europe, acknowledge Ryanair's 29-year safety record and, as we reported, the company's full compliance with EU requirements."

Libel lawyer Paul Tweed, acting for Ryanair, said the airline was seeking to have an action against Channel 4 listed before the High Court in Dublin as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, Ryanair chief pilot Captain Ray Conway said he was satisfied with the outcome of the case.

"I am very satisfied with the comprehensive vindication and acknowledgement of Ryanair's 29-year safety record by the Daily Mail before the courts this morning," he said.

"I wish to emphasise that Ryanair cannot and will not tolerate what were totally unjustified and inappropriate allegations in relation to our industry-leading safety.

"Safety has been and always will be the absolute priority of Ryanair."

Irish Independent

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