Ryanair challenges authorities on volcanic ash advisory

TRUST Ryanair chief Michael O`Leary, known for shaking the commercial aviation scene with controversial outbursts, to challenge the authorities on its volcanic ash advisory when Iceland sent out what looked like an annual blowout of ash.

The Grimsvotn volcano started erupting last week and resulted in flight disruptions across Scotland and some other parts of Europe. Airlines that cancelled flights include British Airways, KLM, Aer Lingus and, yes, Ryanair.

Fortunately, the disruption was not long-lived as anticipated. Not anywhere near the scale of last year`s eruption of Eyjafjallajokull volcano that caused weeks of air travel chaos across Europe affecting more than a million air travelers. Then, as airlines faced Brobdinagian losses, a debate ensued as to how real was the threat of volcanic ash to the safety of aircraft and whether the authorities were being overly and unnecessarily cautious. Hopefully, at the end of it, all parties concerned should have arrived at a better understanding of the various risk levels.

But it seems Mr O`Leary remained unconvinced, being of the opinion that the “red zone” over Scottish airspace where ash has been classified “high-density” was invented by the Met Office and the Civil Aviation Authority. According to reports, Ryanair said it had conducted a test flight and found “no visible volcanic ash cloud or evidence of ash on the airframe, wings or engines.”

This was refuted by British Transport Secretary Philip Hammond who believed from information he received that the Ryanair flight “did not actually fly in any areas” affected by ash.

Now, give Mr O’Leary credit for initiative and always challenging the norm, and if Ryanair’s challenge did not go down well with its customers, the comforting news is that it complied anyway. It must know when discretion is always the better part of velour.

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About David Leo
David Leo has more than 30 years of aviation experience, having served in senior management in one of the world's best airlines and airports. He continues to maintain a keen interest in the business, writes freelance and provides consultancy services in the field.

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