Ryanair boss dismisses safety fears after emergency landing
Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary today dismissed complaints about the airline's safety procedures after one of the airline's planes was forced to make an unscheduled landing in France last night following a loss of pressure in the cabin.
Sixteen people were taken to hospital when the plane which was travelling from Bristol to Barcelona with 168 passengers onboard landed at Limoges airport in central France.
A company spokeswoman said: “Ryanair confirms that the FR9336 from Bristol airport to Barcelona Girona airport on the evening of August 25 experienced an inflight depressurisation incident which caused the oxygen masks on board to deploy.
“As a safety precaution the captain descended and diverted the aircraft to Limoges Airport at approximately 23.30 local French time.
“All 168 passengers disembarked safely upon landing. A total of 16 passengers together with five accompanying family members have transferred, at their request, to a local hospital complaining of ear ache," she added.
A replacement aircraft was deployed which transferred 127 passengers onwards to Barcelona Girona, landing at 3.30 this morning.
Shortly before lunchtime today a coach departed from Limoges to Barcelona with all remaining passengers.
British artic explorer Pen Hadow, who was on the flight with his family, criticised Ryanair's safety procedures earlier this morning.
Mr Hadow said passengers weren't told what had happened. The experience "was traumatic for many involved," he told the BBC.
"Suddenly there was a roar of wind, a rush of cold air, the oxygen masks dropped, you didn't know what was going on."
Mr Hadow, who in 2003 became the first person to reach the North Pole unaided from Canada, also said the oxygen masks did not seem to work.
"No oxygen was delivered through the oxygen masks and I was surprised there seemed to be no communication between the pilot and the flight attendants because they didn't seem to know what to say and do," Hadow said.
"There was absolutely no communication from the flight crew and that added to people's extreme fear."
However, Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary dismissed Hadow's complaints this morning.
"Passengers sometimes misunderstand ... they expect a surge of oxygen when in actual fact there is a steady stream of oxygen," he said.
"The oxygen masks were working and the correct procedures were followed. As soon as the captain got the plane down to 8,000 ft he did make the appropriate announcement that they were going to divert to Limoges for safety reasons.
"This is always a traumatic experience for passengers but ... the crew dealt with it appropriately."
Ryanair said its engineers had inspected the aircraft andconfirmed that the oxygen masks which deployed were working properly. It added that both Irish and French aviation authorities had been infromed about the incident and said a full investigation will be undertaken later today.
The aircraft, a Boeing 737-800 is 5 years old and was last serviced on 24th July, the company said.
Additional reporting: agencies