Ryanair goes on the offensive over UK TV safety allegations

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Irish budget carrier Ryanair today pre-emptively defended itself ahead of an upcoming UK television documentary, in which allegations are made about about the airline’s safety, security and service standards.

The airline, famed for its pugnacious approach to public relations, has published on its website a record of all the lengthy correspondence between itself and the producers of the Dispatches  programme, which will be broadcast on UK television’s Channel 4 tonight at 20:00. In the programme, Ryanair: Caught Napping, two undercover reporters spent two months working as Ryanair flight attendants.

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In its initial letter to Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary, dated 12 January, Channel 4 details a series of allegations against the carrier including tired, overworked cabin crew and insufficient aircraft cleaning and safety checks.

O’Leary responded to every allegation with detailed rebuttals which eventually led to protracted correspondence containing numerous claims and counter-claims. The outspoken chief executive strongly contests the allegations in the following statement: “Ryanair can find no substance in any of the allegations in the letters received from the production company used by Dispatches, Steve Boulton Productions.

“We have replied to all allegations made and have copied all of this correspondence at every stage to the relevant aviation regulatory authorities in the UK and Ireland … and they have also confirmed that they can find no substance to any of these written allegations on the basis of the evidence thus far produced by Dispatches.”

O’Leary adds that his offer to take part in a live, unedited interview to accompany the television documentary was declined by Channel 4, and that the carrier “will not agree to an interview which can then be edited and shredded by a production company which has already misled the airline as to the identity of its two reporters and has failed to substantiate any of the unfounded allegations made in its letters”.

Ryanair says that by publishing the correspondence on its website it is showing that it has “nothing to hide”. However, O’Leary notes that “if there are any isolated breaches of Ryanair’s own policies and procedures presented in the programme, then these naturally will be the subject of a full investigation by Ryanair and any such investigation will be conducted in co-operation with both the Irish and UK aviation regulatory authorities.”

Channel 4 and Steve Boulton Productions were unavailable for comment.

KERRY EZARD / LONDON

This article first appeared on Air Transport Intelligence, an online business intelligence service for the air transport industry with 24 hour news and data available to subscribers.