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DANGEROUS AND FUELISH; Ryanair 'puts lives at risk by rationing aviation fuel'.

Byline: ALANA FEARON

ANGRY pilots have accused Ryanair of putting passengers' lives in danger by rationing their fuel.

The Irish Aviation Authority has launched a probe after allegations three of the airline's captains were forced to make Mayday emergency fuel landings on the same day last month.

Thunderstorms had forced the planes to divert from Madrid to Valencia, where they had to circle in the sky for more than an hour before getting clearance.

But the pilots feared they were so low on fuel on July 26 they had to issue the distress calls and land immediately.

And yesterday, the Irish Airline Pilots Association sparked panic among fliers by accusing Ryanair of rationing fuel.

Spokesman Evan Cullen also claimed the no-frills operator was keeping a "league table" to keep track of which pilots were using up the most fuel.

And he said a skinflint culture was forcing pilots "to do things they are not comfortable doing".

He added: "Most pilots expect to go through their entire career without making a Mayday call but here you have three Ryanair captains on three separate flights who came to the conclusion they must issue a Mayday call.

"And these fuel league tables are a disgrace. They're appalling and they're putting undue pressure on the pilots to rethink their fuel policy when they know they are going to get a nasty letter if they take extra fuel."

But Ryanair's Stephen McNamara dismissed the claims as "union rhetoric" and insisted every airline has a fuel policy.

He said: "This is the unions trying to muddy the waters and suggest there is an issue there in relation to safety when clearly there's not.

"At every single airline there would be a fuel policy in place.

"We know how much fuel there should be for a particular trip and then we have a guideline to the pilots that if they need to take additional fuel outside of the already factored-in contingency fuel, they need to let us know.

"And I think that is absolutely to be respected with the fact that fuel is so expensive now."

Mr McNamara added Ryanair never puts saving money before safety. And he said each of the planes had an hour and a half-worth of fuel in their tanks when they landed in Valencia on top of the 30 minutes-worth required by law.

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HEADING FOR TROUBLE? Ryanair chief Michael O'Leary
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUSP
Date:Aug 17, 2012
Words:400
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