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Ryan's dream: Ireland could run air traffic control for the whole of European airspace



Declan Ryan said Ireland’s air traffic control capability could cover Europe

Declan Ryan said Ireland’s air traffic control capability could cover Europe

Declan Ryan said Ireland’s air traffic control capability could cover Europe

Ireland's air traffic control (ATC) system could manage airspace throughout Europe - where strikes by French and other operators have frequently grounded flights during peak summer holidays in recent years - according to airline entrepreneur Declan Ryan.

A son of the late Ryanair founder Tony Ryan, the aviator has also said airlines need to "get rid" of some pilots around the world as part of an innovation drive.

"I just love to think about Eamonn Brennan, who now runs Eurocontrol, if he was given the right tools with regards to innovation," Ryan told the Airfinance Journal conference in Dublin last week.

Brennan, the former head of the Irish Aviation Authority, was named director general of Brussels-based Eurocontrol, the agency developing a Europe-wide air traffic management system, in 2017.

"My understanding is the ATC capability we have here in Ireland is enough to cover Europe," said Ryan.

"I didn't go to Harvard or anywhere else like that, but I know that if you had one ATC [operator] in Ireland, our costs would come down. There's loads of room for innovation."

Ryan's Dublin-based Irelandia Aviation firm has invested in a number of low-cost airline start-ups over almost 20 years.

It owns a majority stake in Viva Air, the low-cost carrier which operates in Colombia and Peru, and which Ryan said during the week that he aims to list on the stock market next year.

"We have Viva Labs down in Medellin, and it's the team behind Propeller in Shannon, which is very interesting," said Ryan.

Propeller Shannon is a start-up accelerator which is backed by organisations including travel software firm Datalex, the Irish Aviation Authority, Boeing, SMBC Aviation Capital and Enterprise Ireland.

"When you think about it, when you get on a Viva Colombia flight or a Viva Peru flight, we should be able to know if you like beer, if you like a sandwich, or what your family's favourite perfume is, but we don't," Ryan told the conference.

He added: "We need to do loads on data and we need to do loads on drones.

"I think we need to get rid of some pilots around the world."

The entrepreneur also said that legacy carriers are "woeful" at trying to establish low-cost airlines.

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"The legacy guys, by and large, aren't very innovative when it comes to costs," he said.

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