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August 17, 2013

Ryanair sue Associated Newspapers, Mirror Group

Ryanair sue Associated Newspapers, Mirror Group

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Saturday, August 17, 2013

Aviation

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Irish budget airline Ryanair have added newspaper publishers Associated Newspapers and Mirror Group to their legal targets in a High Court defamation action filed yesterday in Dublin that also targets Channel 4.

A Ryanair Boeing 737 pictured in 2006.
Image: WikiABG.

The move confirms the carrier’s expression of intent to sue Channel 4 after the UK broadcaster screened Secrets of the Cockpit, a documentary about safety at the airline, on Monday night. Part of the Dispatches series, the show reported on an incident in Spain last year where three Ryanair jets declared fuel emergencies after being diverted to Valencia. Fuel policy was a strong focus for the documentary.

Pilots interviewed for the programme said they felt pressured to save fuel, the cost of which has hit Ryanair’s profits. The Spanish Air Authority described Ryanair flights usually landing with a bare minimum of fuel, in a report the airline dismissed as “manifestly inaccurate and factually untrue”.

Ryanair have also sacked veteran pilot John Goss for appearing on the show, the only pilot interviewed who did not seek anonymity. Ryanair have stated intent to sue Goss and claim he confirmed in the weeks before the show that he had no issues with his employer’s safety. Goss is a member of Ryanair Pilots Group (RPG), which the airline call a union front.

Channel 4 previously promised when threatened with legal action to see Ryanair in court. “We stand by our journalism, and will robustly defend proceedings if they are initiated,” a spokesperson said. The Belfast Telegraph was also sued but the action has been dropped after the Northern Irish publication issued an apology. The paper had published a story titled “Are budget airlines like Ryanair putting passengers at risk?”.

Associated Newspapers are behind The Daily Mail and its online and Sunday variants. Mirror Group publish The Daily Mirror, its Sunday sister, and The People.

Secrets of the Cockpit also examined an RPG poll of 1,000 Ryanair flight crew, dismissed by the airline as part of unionisation efforts. According to the RPG survey almost 90% of respondents said the safety culture was nontransparent. Two-thirds said they felt uncomfortable raising safety issues, with a pilot interviewed by Channel 4 accusing Ryanair of “threats and bullying”. Ryanair had told pilots anybody signing a “so-called safety petition” might be dismissed.

Over 90% of those surveyed wanted a regulatory inquiry, with RPG saying the survey results were passed to the airline and the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA). The IAA has already called the programme a “misguided attack” on Ryanair, saying “Ryanair Plc fully complies with all European and international regulations in all areas of its operations”.

Cquote1.svg We have been instructed to vigorously prosecute these libel proceedings Cquote2.svg

—Ryanair’s lawyers

The IAA itself was accused of failing to respond to concerns from Ryanair pilots and one interviewee said his “personal belief is that the majority of Ryanair pilots do not have confidence in the safety agencies and that is a pretty critical issue”. The authority responded “The IAA has responded to personal letters and reports from Ryanair pilots, this included several meetings and face-to-face interviews with pilots and their legal and professional representatives.”

Ryanair makes heavy use of zero-hour contracts, which do not guarantee work and which the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association describe as offering some of aviation’s worst employment conditions. RPG chairman Evert van Zwol, also a recent Dutch Airline Pilots Association president, said zero-hour contracts tended to make pilots choose to fly when unwell and keep quiet if they had safety concerns. In 2005 a Polish Ryanair pilot became lost near Rome a few days after attending his son’s funeral, while his Dutch co-pilot was seeing his first experience of navigating severe weather.

In the 2005 incident air traffic control intervened to keep the flight safe from midair collisions. The Polish pilot told Italian investigators he feared losing his job if he took extra time off work. The investigation concluded in 2009 he had been unfit to fly. Ryanair denied he would have been fired for taking time off to recover.

Secrets of the Cockpit also reported that in twelve separate serious incidents data from cockpit voice recorders had been wiped before investigators could access it, which the carrier says is a common occcurrence in aviation and attributed to pilot error.

In Sweden a report into a Ryanair emergency landing concluded this week an airline employee wiped the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder to prevent the investigation accessing them. The aircraft had returned to an airport near Stockholm shortly after takeoff suffering electrical malfunctions. Ryanair reject the Swedish Accident Investigation Authority’s take on the missing data, telling newspaper Södermanlands Nyheter recordings were reset by a technician trying to repair the aircraft after consultation with Ryanair’s technical department, who did not think the recordings needed saving.

Ryanair, which has never suffered a fatal accident, says the documentary is “false and defamatory”, and the IAA says it is “based upon false and misleading information”. “We have been instructed to vigorously prosecute these libel proceedings,” said a statement from Ryanair’s lawyers, who promised “other litigation is pending”.



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August 14, 2013

Ryanair threaten legal action after documentary on fuel policy, safety

Ryanair threaten legal action after documentary on fuel policy, safety

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Aviation

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Irish budget airline Ryanair have stated intent to sue the UK’s Channel 4 over a documentary broadcast Monday night which discussed safety at the airline. Secrets of the Cockpit focused strongly on fuel policy and featured interviews with pilots.

A Ryanair Boeing 737 pictured in 2006.
Image: WikiABG.

Part of the Dispatches series, the show reported on an incident in Spain last year where three Ryanair jets declared fuel emergencies after being diverted to Valencia. Pilots interviewed for the programme said they felt pressured to save fuel, the cost of which has hit Ryanair’s profits. The Spanish Air Authority described Ryanair flights usually landing with a bare minimum of fuel, in a report the airline dismissed as “manifestly inaccurate and factually untrue”.

Ryanair say their planes carry more fuel than European Union legislation requires and point out the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) monitor their safety record, including fuel policy. Ryanair has never had a fatal accident and the IAA called Secrets of the Cockpit a “misguided attack” which was “based upon false and misleading information”.

The IAA itself was accused of failing to respond to concerns from Ryanair pilots and one interviewee said his “personal belief is that the majority of Ryanair pilots do not have confidence in the safety agencies and that is a pretty critical issue”. An IAA statement yesterday morning read “The IAA has responded to personal letters and reports from Ryanair pilots, this included several meetings and face-to-face interviews with pilots and their legal and professional representatives.” The statement added “Ryanair Plc fully complies with all European and international regulations in all areas of its operations”.

Cquote1.svg We stand by our journalism, and will robustly defend proceedings if they are initiated Cquote2.svg

—Channel 4

Channel 4 promised to see Ryanair in court, saying “We stand by our journalism, and will robustly defend proceedings if they are initiated.” Ryanair called the documentary “false and defamatory”. Other claims in the documentary included that twelve cockpit voice recorders had been wiped after serious incidents, which Ryanair blamed on pilot error and said is a common occcurence in aviation, and that a survey by Ryanair Pilots Group (RPG) found widespread safety concerns at the airline.

RPG is not recognised by the airline which calls the group “[lacking] any independence, objectivity or reliability”. The airline says they conducted their survey, which polled 1,000 flight crew, as part of a long campaign to unionise Ryanair pilots. The airline makes heavy use of zero-hour contracts, which do not guarantee work and which the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association describe as offering some of aviation’s worst employment conditions.

According to the RPG survey almost 90% of respondents said the safety culture was nontransparent. Two-thirds said they felt uncomfortable raising safety issues. Ryanair had told pilots anybody signing a “so-called safety petition” might be dismissed.

One anonymous pilot interviewed by Channel 4 accused the airline of “threats and bullying”. Over 90% of those surveyed wanted a regulatory inquiry, with RPG saying the survey results were passed to the airline and the IAA.

RPG chairman Evert van Zwol, also a recent Dutch Airline Pilots Association president, said zero-hour contracts tended to make pilots choose to fly when unwell and keep quiet if they had safety concerns. In 2005 a Polish Ryanair pilot became lost near Rome a few days after attending his son’s funeral, while his Dutch co-pilot was seeing his first experience of navigating severe weather.

In the 2005 incident air traffic control intervened to keep the flight safe from midair collisions. The Polish pilot told Italian investigators he feared losing his job if he took extra time off work. The investigation concluded in 2009 he had been unfit to fly. Ryanair denied he would have been fired for taking time off to recover.



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May 5, 2010

Scottish airspace to be closed over volcanic ash concerns

Scottish airspace to be closed over volcanic ash concerns

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

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The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) says it will close some airspace in Scotland, after meteorologists cautioned that ash from Eyjafjallajokull, an erupting volcano in Iceland, may make it unsafe for airplanes to fly.

The CAA announced that the airspace will be shut down from 07.00 (06.00 UTC) local time on Wednesday; travellers are advised to check with their airlines to see if their flights will be operating. A spokesman for the agency also added that “[t]he forecasts also show that it is likely that the ash cloud will continue to move south, potentially affecting airports in the north-west of England and North Wales.”

“Met Office forecasts show that levels of ash in the atmosphere over Scotland and Northern Ireland will exceed the concentrations that engine manufactures have agreed are safe for operations,” said a spokesman for the authority. “Unfortunately, this means that the CAA anticipates all Scottish and Northern Ireland airports will be closed from 7.00 am local time.”

The Irish Aviation Authority, meanwhile, warned that aviation in the vicinity could face a “summer of uncertainty” as the volcano continues to sporadically erupt. “We could be faced with this periodically [in] the summer,” said Eamon Brennan, the chief executive of the group.

The restrictions come a day after a temporary ban on flights in Ireland was implemented yesterday, from 07.00 to 13.00 local time (06.00 to 12.00 UTC); flights from there have now resumed. Flights going to and from locations in mainland Europe have not been affected thanks to new flight rules that allow planes fly through low-density ash clouds.



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May 3, 2010

New ash flight bans ordered in Ireland

New ash flight bans ordered in Ireland – Wikinews, the free news source

New ash flight bans ordered in Ireland

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Monday, May 3, 2010

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Aviation authorities in Ireland have said that a temporary ban on flights coming in and out of the country will be implemented tomorrow, due to potential risks from volcanic ash from an Icelandic volcano. The restrictions would apply from 07.00 to 13.00 local time (06.00 to 12.00 UTC).

The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) commented: “[IAA] informed Irish-based airlines that it is concerned that Irish airports may be impacted by the drift south of the volcanic ash cloud caused by the north easterly winds”.

Later, the authority added: “The decision is based on the safety risks to crews and passengers as a result of the drift south of the volcanic ash cloud caused by the northeasterly winds.” IAA noted that flights over the UK and mainland Europe wouldn’t be affected by the restrictions.

IAA Chief Executive Eamon Brennan also commented on the ban: “We are quite optimistic that it will dissipate and we are quite optimistic for Dublin and for Shannon tomorrow afternoon but we will make a reassessment for that in the morning.”

Last month, many flights to and from Europe were cancelled for almost a week, over fears that the volcano ash could cause jet engines to fail.



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April 21, 2010

Ash-triggered flight disruptions cost airlines $1.7 billion

Ash-triggered flight disruptions cost airlines $1.7 billion

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said today that the flight disruptions triggered by the recent eruption of a volcano in Iceland cost the global airline industry a total of $1.7 billion dollars.

Cquote1.svg For an industry that lost $9.4bn last year and was forecast to lose a further $2.8bn in 2010, this crisis is devastating Cquote2.svg

—Giovanni Bisignani, CEO of the IATA

According to the IATA, airlines lost a total of $400 million daily for the first three days of the week that European airspace was closed. The closures also impacted an estimated 1.2 million passengers around the world each day, until airspace around Europe began reopening last night. IATA’s chief executive officer, Giovanni Bisignani, said that “[f]or an industry that lost $9.4bn last year and was forecast to lose a further $2.8bn in 2010, this crisis is devastating.” He also claimed that the airline industry would require three years to recover from the effects of the crisis, and called on governments to provide some form of compensation to airlines.

Bisignani also criticized the response of European governments to the ash threat, saying that they had over-reacted and the shutdown of all airspace was excessive. He said that “Airspace was being closed based on theoretical models, not on facts. Test flights by our members showed that the models were wrong. [The crisis] is an extraordinary situation exaggerated by a poor decision-making process by national governments.” Individual airlines also criticized the airspace closures. Micheal O’Leary, CEO of Ryanair, said that “It might have made sense to ground flights for a day or two…But by the time that that cloud has dispersed through 800 or 1,000 nautical miles of air space, a full ban should never have been imposed.”

In defense of the European airspace controller, Eurocontrol, the CEO of the Irish Aviation Authority, Eamonn Brennan, said: “It’s important to realize that we’ve never experienced in Europe something like this before. So it wasn’t just a simple matter of saying: Yes, you could have operated on Saturday or Sunday or Monday. We needed the four days of test flights, the empirical data, to put this together and to understand the levels of ash that engines can absorb.” Additionally, scientists in Switzerland said that studies of ash content in the atmosphere were high enough that the total closure of most European airspace was warranted.

Restrictions over air travel in Europe have been lifted in many parts of the continent today; three-quarters of the scheduled flights were operating, and most of the European airspace having been opened. Only parts of British, French and Irish airspace remain closed, and most of Europe’s major airports are open, although not necessarily operating at full capacity; at London Heathrow Airport, about half the scheduled departing flights were canceled.



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  • “Europe’s airline chaos: in depth” — Wikinews, April 17, 2010
  • “European airspace closed by volcanic ash” — Wikinews, April 15, 2010

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Aftermath of the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption
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