The settlement of a libel action brought by Ryanair vindicates its standing as one of the safest airlines in Europe, chief executive Michael O’Leary said yesterday.
The aviation boss and his senior pilot were both at the High Court in Belfast for the resolution of proceedings against the publishers of the Daily Mail and Irish Daily Mail.
Ryanair sued over articles based on a television documentary programme that claimed to reveal safety and fuel issues at the airline.
As part of the confidential settlement a statement was read out by the newspapers’ publishers acknowledging Ryanair planes fully complied with EU safety rules during three fuel emergency landings.
Mr O’Leary said: “We are very pleased that the Mail has acted promptly to set the record straight in relation to our safety standards – time was of the essence.
“We employ 9,500 aviation professionals and today’s settlement vindicates that the quality of work they do in delivering what the IAA (Irish Aviation Authority) has confirmed is one of the safest airlines in Europe.”
He also vowed to press ahead with separate legal action against Channel 4 over its Dispatches documentary.
“Those matters will continue against other parties who have also questioned our safety record,” the airline chief insisted.
Defamation proceedings were brought against Associated Newspapers Ltd and Associated Newspapers (Ireland) Ltd over an article which appeared last month in the Irish Daily Mail and the Mail Online.
After being told yesterday that the action had been settled, Mr Justice Gillen approved a statement to be read out in court by Michael Kealey, the defendants’ legal manager in Ireland.
It detailed how the article referred to claims made by a body describing itself as a Ryanair Pilot Group and other allegations broadcast in the Channel 4 programme.
“Ryanair does not accept the results of the survey conducted by the interim council of this group, whose chairman is a KLM pilot, or that the group represents the views of the majority of Ryanair’s pilots,” Mr Kealey said.
Three fuel emergency landings in Valencia back in July 2012 were also mentioned.
“We accept that the official report produced by the Irish safety agencies confirmed that all three aircraft took on extra fuel, (and) all three aircraft flew for over one hour more than planned due to adverse weather and diversions from Madrid to Valencia,” the statement continued.
“All three aircraft fully complied with EU safety rules when landing safely in Valencia.”
Mr Kealey added: “Ryanair has made clear that if pilots have legitimate safety concerns they should report them either directly to Ryanair, or to the Irish Aviation Authority, using their confidential safety reporting systems.
“We also accept the recent confirmation issued by the independent Irish Aviation Authority that ‘Ryanair’s safety is on a par with the safest airlines in Europe’ and acknowledge Ryanair’s 29-year safety record.”
Mr O’Leary’s solicitor, Paul Tweed, said: “My client acknowledges and appreciates the prompt and comprehensive manner in which The Mail have acted to set the record straight in relation to the reporting of what were totally false and misleading statements, originating from a Channel 4 Dispatches programme which remains the subject of ongoing litigation.”