"I don't know if people realised how close to the edge they were..."
This single sentence encapsulates the recent Channel 4 Dispatches documentary which explored how Ryanair's pilots view the airline, famous for its dirt-cheap ticket prices.
Within the documentary, anonymous pilots spoke to the reporters about a number of safety concerns. Despite Ryanair's 29-year safety record, pilots spoke about their fuel policy worries. The interviewees talked about competitions and league tables -- posted every month -- to rank pilots based on how little fuel they carried on flights. A case in Spain was cited where, following poor weather, three Ryanair flights in quick succession were forced to scream Mayday and land -- lacking the fuel necessary to wait in line for a flight slot.
The show also mentioned the results of a survey conducted by the Ryanair Pilot Group, a group apparently consisting of anonymous pilots who are concerned about Ryanair's cost-cutting -- which may impact on the safety of passengers.
The survey of over 1,000 captains and first officers claiming to work for the airline found that 94 percent would like to see a formal inquiry into Ryanair's policies and how they impact safety. In addition, 89 percent of the employees believed Ryanair lacked an "open and transparent" safety culture, and over 65 percent would not feel comfortable blowing the whistle on problems internally.
In response to the allegations, Ryanair said it plans to sue the media outlet. In addition, the carrier fiercely defends its safety record, stating in a press release that the Irish Aviation Authority found the airline's policies to be "on a par with the safest airlines in Europe."
"Ryanair rejected the false and defamatory claims made by the Channel 4 Dispatches programme which wrongly impugn and smear Ryanair’s outstanding 29 year safety record based on nothing more than anonymous hearsay claims made by individuals whose identity was concealed.
Channel 4 Dispatches have repeatedly refused Ryanair's offer of an unedited interview with CEO Michael O'Leary, in which he offered to address any claims raised by Dispatches and rubbish the false claims made by these anonymous contributors."
In addition, the company said that the "self styled" pilot group is nothing more than a PR front for EU competitors, including members from KLM, Aer Lingus, Air France and Southwest Airlines.
"These people have no insight, credibility or objectivity in commenting upon Ryanair's safety," Ryanair said. "This trade union group has no credibility, it lacks any impartiality, and its fabricated survey which claims to be based upon replies from less than one third of Ryanair's over 3,000 serving pilots are a crude attempt to use baseless safety “concerns” as a cover for its failed trade union agenda."
Via: The Huffington Post
Image credit: Ryanair
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com