Ryanair is lots of things -- cheap, rude, penny-pinching, insulting, classless -- but it's likely not so stupid as to toy with safety issues like lack of fuel.
Three Ryanair aircraft forced to make emergency landings in Spain were carrying sufficient fuel when they took off, but the airline should still review its fuel policy, the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) has said.
On July 26, the planes, which were bound for Madrid, were diverted to Valencia, but drew near to their minimum legal level of fuel. In its preliminary report, which followed a meeting with Spanish aviation authorities in Dublin, the IAA found that they departed with fuel in excess of legal requirements. EU rules require commercial aircraft to carry sufficient fuel to cope with various contingencies – such as unexpected delays or re-routing to other airports.
Ryanair had previously said the planes were diverted as a result of bad weather, a claim supported by the IAA’s findings – its report states that weather forecasts for Madrid on July 26 indicated a 40 per cent probability of thunderstorms.
But the IAA suggested that Ryanair issue new guidance to cabin crew with regards to fuel when flying into busy airports, particularly in poor weather, where diversions were likely.
Following the emergency landings, the airline was accused by unions of putting pressure on flight crews to make decisions based on “factors other than safety”.
IALPA, the Irish pilots’ union, alleged that the airline put pressure on flight crews to carry the minimum amount of fuel required, in an attempt to cut costs. Ryanair has rejected the claims.
Two more incidents involving the no-frills carrier last weekend are also being investigated. On Sunday, a flight from Paris to Tenerife was diverted to Madrid due to a technical issue, and on Saturday, a Ryanair flight was diverted to El Prat airport in Barcelona because of an engine fault.