Ryanair denies fuel claim after Maydays

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RYANAIR HAS denied passengers are being put at risk after three of its pilots issued separate Mayday calls in Spain last month due to dwindling fuel supplies.

The Irish Airline Pilots’ Association claimed yesterday the corporate culture at the airline was responsible after it emerged that Spain’s aviation safety agency was investigating three emergency landings by Ryanair planes at Valencia airport on July 26th.

Association president Capt Evan Cullen said there was an environment at Ryanair which was “making pilots uncomfortable” about taking extra fuel when they felt they needed to.

Capt Cullen said the company operated a fuel-league table, with pilots at the bottom receiving letters from the company warning them they were being watched.

The only reason for such league tables was to “put personal pressure on individuals to take less fuel than they were comfortable with”, he told RTÉ Radio.

However, Ryanair spokesman Stephen McNamara denied pilots were under pressure to carry the minimum amount of fuel. The airline was “never going to put fuel before safety”, he told RTÉ.

Every airline had a fuel policy, and Ryanair factored in 1½ hours of extra fuel for a journey.

If pilots needed to take additional fuel “they need to let us know”, he said.

Mr McNamara blamed the Mayday calls on the “highly unusual situation of the diversion” where the three aircraft were diverted from Madrid to Valencia by air traffic control due to severe thunder storms.

After being put on hold, the pilots contacted air traffic control some 50 to 70 minutes after their scheduled landing times in Madrid asking to be allowed to land immediately.

In a statement yesterday, the airline said the aircraft had “reached their reserve fuel minimums” and eventually landed with reserve fuel of at least 30 minutes, in full compliance with European safety procedures.

A Spanish consumer association called for an investigation into the incidents, for the airline’s licence to be suspended for three years, and for it to be fined €4.5 million.

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