Ryanair 'had enough fuel' for diversions


THREE RYANAIR aircraft which carried out emergency landings in Valencia because fuel supplies ran low after they were diverted from Madrid, followed safety guidelines and had enough fuel for their flight plans, a Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) report has found.

However, the report, which was sent to the airline earlier this week, asked it to review its fuel policy, particularly when flying into busy airports in bad weather, and suggested it provide extra training to staff for scenarios similar to those which occurred over the Spanish capital this summer.

It also called on the Spanish aviation authority to review whether additional fuel was required for flights into Madrid.

The flights from Stockholm, London and Palma to Madrid on July 26th were diverted after thunderstorms caused long delays in Spanish airspace. All three aircraft declared emergencies when the pilots calculated usable fuel for landing at Valencia was deemed to be less than the final reserve.

The IAA report was not intended for widespread publication but was released by Ryanair yesterday in a move which the authority described as “unusual”.

“We were surprised that it was published,” a spokesman said. “Reports of this nature are not normally published by airlines, but it is not like we are annoyed they have gone down this route and the report stands up. Their safety record is very good.”

Industry sources said much of the disquiet about the aircrafts’ emergency diversions was caused not because of any genuine concern about the specific incidents or Ryanair’s safety record but because of an ongoing row between the fiercely anti-union Ryanair and the Spanish civil aviation authorities and airline unions in Spain.

The IAA report found that the crew followed EU safety guidelines and that all the aircraft had fuel “in excess of flight plan requirements” when they left for Madrid. It said the increased holding time southwest of the city before the aircraft were rerouted meant they “declared an emergency in accordance with EU-OPS when the calculated usable fuel for landing at Valencia was less than final reserve”.

The IAA said there were significant delays to all traffic over Madrid and air traffic control in Valencia had come under “significant pressure” with the number of diversions arriving in their airspace.

“Diverting with fuel close to the minimum diversion fuel in the circumstances presented on the evening in question was likely to present challenges for the crew,” the report said.

Welcoming the report, Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary expressed the hope that the Spanish ministry for development would accept his invitation to “inspect our operations in Dublin in order to put an end to the false claims and misinformation in the Spanish media in recent weeks about Ryanair’s outstanding 28-year safety record”.

Spain’s minister for development Ana Pastor, whose ministry runs aviation safety, has called for tighter safety regimes at low-cost airlines following a series of media reports about emergency incidents.