Ryanair accepts apology from Independent newspaper over fuel story

Ryanair has accepted a public apology over a newspaper claim that it had restricted the amount of fuel carried by its aircraft to the legal minimum.

The airline brought the libel action against Independent Digital News and Media Limited at London’s High Court over a story which appeared in August in the online edition of The Independent.

Entitled “Low-fuel flights put lives at risk”, it incorrectly said that Ryanair had “restricted the amount of fuel (their aircraft carry) to the legal minimum”.

In fact, said solicitor Paul Tweed, Ryanair pilots were permitted to carry as much extra fuel, over and above the flight plan fuel – which already included extra fuel – as they considered necessary.

He told Mr Justice Tugendhat today that the article also referred to a legal minimum fuel-reserve which aircraft must have on landing, and claimed that one of Ryanair’s flights in 2010 landed with less than that amount of fuel.

“In fact, the legal obligation relating to fuel payload specifies the amount required on take-off (a portion of which is the requisite reserve). Ryanair complied with this requirement on take-off in the 2010 incident but declared an emergency, as required, on their approach to landing because the remaining fuel was likely to be and in the event was, less than the pre-departure reserve when the flight touched down.

“The Spanish CIAIAC (Commission for Civil Aviation Accidents and Incidents) issued a report about this incident. When the Irish Ministry of Transport subsequently met with the Spanish Development Ministry in 2012 they issued a joint press release in which they stated ’The Irish Authorities gave an assurance of the IAA’s (Irish Aviation Authority) rigorous oversight of Ryanair’s operation and of their satisfaction with Ryanair’s safety standards which are on a par with the safest in Europe’.”

Mr Tweed said that the publisher now repeated its earlier published apology for the errors in its article and also accepted the IAA’s statement of August 15 that they “regularly review the fuel policy of Ryanair as part of our regular surveillance programme and we have no concerns currently that any undue upload restrictions implied or otherwise exist”.

Counsel Lois Cole-Wilson, for the publisher, confirmed everything Mr Tweed had said.

After the brief hearing, David O’Brien, director of flight and ground operations for Ryanair, said: “I am very satisfied with the comprehensive vindication and acknowledgement of Ryanair’s 29 year safety record by The Independent before the court this morning.”

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