Sunday Times pays substantial damages to Ryanair over safety breaches story

The Sunday Times has made a substantial damages payout to Ryanair over an article claiming the airline routinely breached safety measures last year.

The paper has published an apology (£) over the 23 September article – headlined “Ryanair accused of 1,201 safety violations” – admitting claims the arline was accused of 1,201 breaches in the first half of 2012 were incorrect.

The figure was said to have come from a leaked report from the Spanish air safety agency (AESA). In its apology, however, the paper said that no such report existed.

The same article also reported that Ryanair made three emergency landings on 26 July 2012 when it diverted flights from Madrid to Valencia because the planes had insufficient fuel to remain in holding patterns.

It also claimed the airline was routinely abusing the mayday protocol to jump landing queues.

In yesterday’s apology the paper said the diversions were in fact the result of bad weather conditions.

“We accept that all these allegations were untrue and apologise to Ryanair for the damage caused by this article,” the paper said.

“We have agreed to pay Ryanair substantial damages, which at the company’s request will be paid to the charity The Jack & Jill Children’s Foundation.”

In an earlier article – headlined “Most Ryanair pilots are freelance” – the paper reported on union claims that pilots felt under pressure to fly when ill and were  rostered for fewer flights if they fell into the bottom 20 per cent of Ryanair’s monthly fuel league tables.

Yesterday’s apology read: “We now accept Ryanair’s statements that pilots are not put under any such pressure and that the fuel-burn league tables are designed to improve fuel performance, which makes flights safer.

“We also accept the Irish Aviation Authority’s assurance that Ryanair’s safety is ‘on a par with the safest airlines in Europe’”.

The damages payable to Ryanair will be paid to The Jack & Jill Children's Founation at the company's request.

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