Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has accused authorities in Spain of orchestrating a campaign against the carrier over allegations it has compromised on safety.
O’Leary wrote to Spanish minister of public works Ana Pastor this week demanding she “take action against the leaking of false information” about Ryanair.
His letter refers to an article in Spanish national newspaper El Mundo on Monday which alleged Ryanair had been involved in 1,200 security incidents in the past six months. O’Leary said the figure was false.
Pastor warned this week that her government plans sanctions against airlines which fail to meet safety requirements.
The Irish Times reported she also plans to lobby the European Commission for action. Paster did not name Ryanair, but said: “Low cost is fine. What we can’t have is low safety.”
However, she did refer to incidents on July 26 when three Ryanair aircraft sought emergency permission to land at Valencia after being diverted from Madrid because of bad weather.
O’Leary has rejected suggestions the carrier was in breach of any safety regulations, pointing out Ryanair’s pilots had complied with safety procedures by requesting to land when they had 30 minutes of fuel left after each circling Valencia for more than an hour.
However, unions representing pilots in Ireland and Germany have accused Ryanair of “making pilots uncomfortable about taking extra fuel when they need it”, and the Spanish pilots association has demanded an investigation.
Two Ryanair flights in Spain suffered depressurisation problems last week, forcing them to turn back in mid flight.
Also this week, an interim report into an emergency descent by a Ryanair flight between Milan and East Midlands in April suggested the aircraft was not properly maintained.
Thirteen people were injured when the flight descended 21,000 feet in five minutes following a problem with a pressure controller. The aircraft diverted to Frankfurt-Hahn airport, leading German authorities to investigate the incident.
A Ryanair spokesman said: “Ryanair notes the interim report into an aircraft depressurisation in April. The German reports suggest Boeing redesigns a ‘black shipping plug’ to make it more clearly visible for maintenance staff. Ryanair will follow any recommendations made by the final report.”
UK law firm Irwin Mitchell, which is representing some of the passengers aboard the flight, said: “A fault with one pressure controller and a badly designed shipping plug on the other gives rise to serious concerns."
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