AIR TRAVEL

Ireland backs Ryanair over emergency landings

File on Ryanair still open, says airports watchdog

Madrid -
Report concludes that Ryanair's standards are "on a par with the safest airlines in Europe"
Report concludes that Ryanair's standards are "on a par with the safest airlines in Europe"Albert Gea (Reuters)

Ryanair on Thursday released the findings of a report by the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) in which it confirmed that three of the company's flights that made emergency landings at Valencia airport on July 26 this year were carrying fuel in excess of flight plan fuel requirements.

The aircraft, traveling from Palma (Mallorca), Skavsta (Stockholm) and Stansted (London) were originally bound for Madrid, before heavy storms saw the closure of Barajas airport, requiring that they be diverted to Valencia.

Each pilot "declared an emergency in accordance with EU-Ops regulations" when they calculated useable fuel for landing was less than the final reserve, the report says.

The report added that each aircraft was operating within European standards. All three planes landed safely in Valencia with more than a ton of fuel on board.

"We welcome the official report," Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O'Leary said Thursday, adding that he wanted "to put an end to the false claims and misinformation in the Spanish media in recent weeks about Ryanair's outstanding 28-year safety record."

O'Leary did admit, however, that the IAA recommended the airline revise its fuel policy, and train pilots to deal with situations such as the bad weather at Madrid in July.

The Spanish government has recently called for more safety at low-cost airlines, while also requesting the power to levy its own sanctions on foreign airlines. This has led Ryanair, Spain's biggest airline in terms of passenger numbers, to invite the Spanish Public Works Ministry to inspect their operations in Dublin, which they feel will confirm the IAA's assertion that "Ryanair's standards are on a par with the safest airlines in Europe."

The IAA has also recommended that its Spanish counterpart, the AESA, review the delays into Madrid, and consider if airlines should be required to carry extra fuel when using the airport, as is the procedure at Heathrow.

The AESA has stated that it will now look into the low-cost airline itself, saying "the file is still open."

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