Spain has ‘no power’ over Ryanair’s licence

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has rubbished claims that authorities in Spain could suspend his airline’s operating licence over a fuel row.

Ryanair has been heavily criticised since it emerged three of its planes made low-fuel emergency landings on the same day last month.

The Irish Aviation Authority and its Spanish equivalent are investigating the mayday calls made at Valencia Airport on Jul 26 after their diversion from Madrid because of storms. Consumer groups in Spain have accused Ryanair of jeopardising passengers’ safety.

However, Mr O’Leary told the Spanish newspaper El Mundo: “I have absolutely no fears the Spanish government will withdraw our operating licence. It’s issued by the Irish Aviation Authority, not its Spanish equivalent.

“Therefore neither the Spanish government or its transport ministry have the power to do this.”

He also accused the Spanish transport ministry of “half-truths”, claiming the airline security ethos in Europe was not built on fines and sanctions but on the detection and correction of problems and recommendations for improvement.

He spoke a day after Evan Cullen, spokesman for the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association, claimed Ryanair’s “corporate culture” was to blame for the three pilots issuing the mayday calls. Mr Cullen said Ryanair stipulates the amount of fuel that each flight should have and that pilots are required to keep refuelling to a minimum.

Mr O’Leary insisted: “The three planes reached Madrid at the scheduled time with enough fuel for 90, 98 and 99 minutes respectively. When they asked for permission to land in Valencia they still had 30 minutes fuel left.”

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