Ryanair clips wings of online critics
Airline outlines steps it is taking to identify people who are making anonymous critical comments about its attitude towards safety
Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill.
Ryanair has outlined to a court in South Africa the steps it is taking around the globe to identify people who are making anonymous critical comments on the internet about its attitude towards safety.
The airline has secured an order forcing African telecoms group Telkom to furnish it with information that might help identify a person who has made internet postings using the tag alwaysflying. The company is also seeking information on a specific IP address in South Africa.
The person has made postings on an internet site called PPRuNe.org, which is used by pilots to discuss matters to do with their work.
Ryanair company secretary Juliusz Komorek told the court in an affidavit that one posting falsely portrayed the airline as having an incompetent flying crew and that this could affect the airline’s reputation and business.
The posting read: “I don’t care if it’s wind/ delays/ weather or anything, if you are flying around your destination eating into alternate fuel then you shouldn’t be a pilot. If they were employed at my company I would have fired the lot of them!”
Mr Komorek told the court the airline had no objection to honest, objective and legitimate comment, but would seek the removal of unlawful and wrong statements and seek a public apology.
The court was told Ryanair had engaged a law firm in Los Angeles, Holland & Knight LLP, to file libel proceedings against a number of defendants in the Los Angeles Superior Court.
The information gathered was examined for it by specialist consultancy company Word to the Wise, which idenfied IP addresses in Ireland, the UK and South Africa.
It is understood Ryanair has indentified the person who used the ‘always flying’ tag and will take legal proceedings as a result. In some cases the airline has secured public apologies from people who made anonymous postings as well as donations to charities, according to one source.
Earlier this year Ryanair got court orders in the Republic instructing Eircom and UPC to provide it with information concerning the identity of parties whom, the High Court was told, had made postings that falsely impugned Ryanair’s excellent safety record.
It has initiated up to six sets of legal proceedings in the Republic against individuals who made postings on PPRuNe.org concerning the airline, according to the source.