Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary said he plans to sue Channel 4 over the passenger safety allegations made in the Dispatches programme broadcast last night (12 August).
The documentary called Secrets from the Cockpit featured anonymous Ryanair pilots claiming that the airline’s fuel policies put passengers at risk.
It was alleged in the programme that pilots who burn the highest amount of fuel receive letters from Ryanair reprimanding them. Dispatches outlined three incidents in which Ryanair pilots had needed to call in May Day alerts due to low fuel on board.
Ryanair today (13 August) issued a statement calling the claims "false and defamatory" that "wrongly impugn and smear Ryanair’s outstanding 29-year safety record based on nothing more than anonymous heresay claims".
The airline has instructed its lawyers to issue legal proceedings against Channel 4 for defamation, claiming that it fully complies with EU fuel policies, "including allowing all its pilots to take as much fuel as they wish to".
In addition to rubbishing the claims made in the documentary, Ryanair claims that Dispatches would not use an unedited interview or statement from Michael O’Leary in the programme, and it has published the letters between itself and Channel 4 on the website.
A Channel 4 spokesperson said: We stand by our journalism and will robustly defend proceedings if they are initiated.
Ryanair recently made headlines by announcing it would ask pilots to slow down the flying of its planes in order to save fuel, which would add two minutes onto every journey.
In a recent interview with Marketing, O’Leary admitted that "short of committing murder, bad publicity sells more seats".
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