The documentary in question was an episode of Dispatches, Channel 4’s investigative current affairs programme, and it was titled Ryanair: Secrets from the Cockpit.
On Tuesday, Deputy Dooley said it is important that claims on the programme be dealt with properly. “Allegations have been made about Ryanair that call into question passenger safety. Ryanair have denied the allegations but they have still been made by a reputable media organisation, it has generated media attention nationally and internationally and that has given rise to concern.
“There are two issues coming out of it; one is if there is a passenger safety issue and if there isn’t, there is the potential if it goes un-investigated to do long-term damage to the economy. Ryanair is a significant player in the Irish economy, not just with the employees and the taxes and revenues generated but from a tourism perspective it is significant.”
Some of the claims made about the level of fuel carried by Ryanair planes are most worrying, Deputy Dooley said. “They will say, and it seems to be the case, that they carry the minimum standard that’s required. But the programme seemed to infer there have been a number of incidents.”
He said it wouldn’t be enough solely to rely on Ryanair’s statements. “It’s not about hearing from Ryanair, it’s about hearing from independent people in the industry, the Aviation Authority, the European Aviation Authority, perhaps aviation regulators in other jurisdictions. We need a comprehensive review of safety issues as they relate to airlines generally and we need to understand whether Ryanair is any better or any worse than the rest of the airlines.”
Following the broadcast, Ryanair strongly rejected the claims made against it.
“Both Ryanair and the Irish safety regulator (IAA) have provided Dispatches with conclusive evidence, which disproves the false claims made by anonymous contributors, which this programme broadcast while ignoring the evidence which proves them to be untrue.
“Despite offering legal protection to these anonymous claimants, they refuse to make their claims on the record because they know these claims are false and will be disproven by an analysis of their rosters, flight and sickness records. Ryanair regrets that the pilot unions of our competitor airlines and a tiny number of individual ‘pilots’ are willing to make these false claims – only while hiding behind anonymity – as a way of promoting their failed efforts to unionise Ryanair’s pilots.”
Robin Kiely of Ryanair said legal action will follow. “Ryanair rejects these failed attempts by C4 Dispatches and/or European pilot trade unions to denigrate or smear Ryanair’s outstanding 29-year safety record in an attempt to promote their 20-year failed campaign to obtain union recognition in Ryanair. Since the Channel 4 Dispatches programme (which previously used actors to promote equally false claims about Ryanair’s cabin crew) has published these false, anonymous, hearsay claims and the bogus results of an unreliable, fabricated survey prepared by the European pilot trade union club, Ryanair has instructed its lawyers to issue legal proceedings against Channel 4 Dispatches for defamation and Ryanair looks forward to this matter being resolved in the courts and the safety of Ryanair’s operations being thoroughly vindicated.”