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The Sunday Times apologises and pays 'substantial' damages for claiming Ryanair broke safety violations 1,201 times

The Sunday Times has been forced to pay Ryanair ‘substantial' damages after it wrongly reported that the airline had broken safety violations 1,201 times.

The newspaper printed an apology to the airline and paid out an undisclosed amount having printed a story in September that wrongly cited a report from the Spanish air safety agency stating that Ryanair had broken safety rules on 1,201 occasions.

It was also wrongly stated within the same article that three emergency landings were reported due to bad weather diversions from Madrid to Valencia and that most of the airlines pilots were freelance and under pressure through ‘monthly fuel league tables’.

The damages will be paid to The Jack & Jill Children’s Foundation at the request of Ryanair.

The full apology printed in the Sunday Times yesterday can be read below:

An article (headlined “Ryanair accused of 1,201 safety violations”, Travel, September 23, 2012) stated that, according to a leaked report from the Spanish air safety agency (AESA), Ryanair planes broke safety rules 1,201 times in Spanish airspace in the first six months of 2012. We now accept that this was incorrect; there was no such report and Ryanair did not commit 1,201 breaches of safety rules.

In the same article we also reported three emergency landings which arose due to bad weather diversions from Madrid to Valencia on July 26, 2012. The article described these flights as having insufficient fuel to remain in holding patterns and reported claims that Ryanair was routinely abusing the mayday protocol to jump landing queues. We accept that all these allegations were untrue and apologise to Ryanair for the damage caused by this article. 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.

Finally, we reported in our article “Most Ryanair pilots are freelance” (News, ¬September 30, 2012) union claims that pilots feel under pressure to fly when ill and pilots’ claims that they are rostered for fewer flights if they fall into the bottom 20% of Ryanair’s monthly fuel league tables. 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”.

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