Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Inquiry into Ryanair incident in Spain

TIM O'BRIEN

Circumstances surrounding an incident involving a Ryanair plane at Madrid airport last weekend are to be jointly investigated by the Irish Aviation Authority and its Spanish counterpart, it was announced this afternoon.

The decision to hold a joint investigation came as a delegation from the Spanish ministry of development was briefed in Dublin on Irish oversight of the safety of Ryanair’s operations in Spain.

The visit of Spanish officials, led by the Spanish secretary general for transport, is the latest move in an ongoing row between Ryanair and the Spanish authorities over alleged safety issues.

On Sunday, a Ryanair plane which was covering a route between Paris Beauvais and Tenerife, landed at Madrid’s Barajas airport due to what the company described as a “small technical problem”. Ryanair apologised to the 159 passengers, who completed their journey after a two hour delay.

It has also emerged the Spanish ministry of development has sent a letter to the European Commissioner for Transport Siim Kallas, detailing its concerns with the airline’s aviation safety in relation to a number of previous incidents.

Ryanair in turn has accused the Spanish government of orchestrating a publicity campaign against it. The company has been increasing its presence in Spain in recent years and is now the largest carrier of passengers in the country.

Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary recently wrote to the Spanish development minister Ana Pastor calling on her to “take action against the leaking of false information” about the airline. He also invited her to send a delegation of officials to visit Ryanair facilities.

Today’s delegation was invited by the Department of Transport to discuss oversight of the airline’s operations in Spain. The Irish authorities also invited their Spanish counterparts to visit the Irish Aviation Authority and to be briefed in detail on safety oversight issues with particular regard to Ryanair.

After the visit, Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar backed Ryanair’s safety record and pointed to the Irish Aviation Authority’s “rigorous” oversight of, and “satisfaction” with Ryanair’s safety standards.

A statement issued on Mr Varadkar’s behalf said Ryanair’s safety standards were “on a par with the safest airlines in Europe”.

The statement went on to say there was “good cooperation between the Irish Aviation Authority and its Spanish counterpart AESA, and it was agreed that the two organisations will develop a memorandum of understanding on increased cooperation. The directors general of civil aviation in the two jurisdictions will also meet regularly”.

In response to the arrival of the Spanish delegation today, Ryanair said it welcomed the transport authority’s statement “which affirms that Ryanair’s safety standards are on par with the safest airlines in Europe.”

It said the airline had also invited the Spanish Ministry to send a team of inspectors to Dublin to correct any “misplaced concerns about Ryanair’s compliance with Europe’s highest operating and maintenance standards by providing them with unfettered access to Ryanair operating, maintenance and flight training facilities and unlimited access to Ryanair’s safety, flight management, engineering and maintenance personnel.”

 Source:   http://www.irishtimes.com

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