Ryanair in eye of storm over newspaper reports on Boeing 737s

Airline said Guardian article on grounded aircraft was ‘rubbish’, when it was true

Ryanair aircraft at Dublin Airport. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Ryanair aircraft at Dublin Airport. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

As is often the case with Ryanair, the Irish airline responded aggressively yesterday when presented with a negative media report.

The Guardian newspaper in Britain reported on Wednesday that three of Ryanair’s Boeing 737 aircraft had been grounded due to cracks between the wing and fuselage, details that had not previously been disclosed by the airline.

The report was dismissed by Ryanair yesterday as being “rubbish”, when it was factually correct.

As noted by the Guardian, Ryanair is the latest airline to be affected by faults in the “pickle fork” structure of some older models of the 737. In March, Boeing was forced to ground its separate 737 Max model following two crashes that led to 346 deaths. Public confidence in Boeing aircraft has been shaken.

“Ryanair has already inspected over 70 of its oldest aircraft in full compliance with the Airworthiness Directive, and our rate of findings is less than the industry-wide 5 per cent confirmed by Boeing recently,” the airline said.

This was classic Ryanair, which sought to confuse the story by presenting the data in a different way. Three is just less than 5 per cent of 70.

“Boeing are carrying out these repairs on behalf of Ryanair currently. Ryanair openly confirmed to the Guardian newspaper [onTuesday] that this tiny number (less than 5 per cent) of findings would not affect either Ryanair’s operating fleet or flights, because the airline has moved to its winter schedule from the end of October.”

In fact, the Ryanair statement to the Guardian did not include the fact that it had inspected 70 aircraft and that cracks had been found in less than 5 per cent of them.

Only last week Ryanair told The Irish Times that, while it continued to review its aircraft, it was unlikely there would be any impact upon operations or fleet availability. A jesuitical answer if ever there was one.

Ryanair has an excellent safety record, but rubbishing factual media reports about possible issues with some of its fleet does little for its reputation.