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Ryanair Files Dublin Suit Against Channel 4 Over Safety Claims

Aug. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Ryanair Holdings Plc has initiated defamation proceedings against Channel 4/Blakeway Productions and others in the wake of a television documentary that questioned its stance on safety, the carrier’s lawyer said.

“We have been instructed to vigorously prosecute these libel proceedings,” Paul Tweed, senior partner at law firm Johnsons, said in an e-mailed statement today. The action is being brought in the High Court in Dublin.

The legal move comes a day after Ryanair dismissed Captain John Goss, who appeared in the Channel 4 “Dispatches” program that this week broadcast the safety concerns. The report relied on a survey conducted by the Ryanair Pilots Group, which claims to represent more than half of the carrier’s air crew.

Tweed said the program’s claims were “totally unfounded.” Proceedings have also been issued against Associated Newspapers, which publishes the Daily Mail, and Mirror Group, whose titles include the Daily Mirror, as well as the Belfast Telegraph in Northern Ireland. More cases are pending, he said.

The Channel 4 program said Ryanair pilots are encouraged to carry as little fuel as possible, causing three jets to declare emergencies before touching down in Valencia, Spain, after diversions from Madrid last year. Fuel emergencies are triggered when pilots come close to having 30 minutes of fuel left.

Ryanair encourages crews to fly with additional kerosene if the captain wishes to do so and the majority of its pilots carry more than the required amount daily, Chief Executive Officer Michael O’Leary said in an Aug. 13 interview.

Europe’s biggest low-cost airline also has no policy of deleting cockpit voice recordings, O’Leary said in response to assertions in the TV program, adding that pilots need to save so-called black-box information themselves. The documentary said crew members are also wary of raising concerns with the company.

To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Wall in London at rwall6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Benedikt Kammel at bkammel@bloomberg.net

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