Ryanair sack, sue pilot over participation in safety documentary

Friday, August 16, 2013

Irish budget airline Ryanair have dismissed pilot John Goss, who has worked with the airline for 25 years, over remarks he made in a documentary about safety at the airline. Ryanair issued a statement confirming legal proceedings have been begun against Goss.

A Ryanair Boeing 737 pictured in 2006.
Image: WikiABG.

The airline is already suing the UK's Channel 4 over Monday night's broadcast of Secrets of the Cockpit, part of the Dispatches series, in which Goss appeared. The programme discussed the airline's safety with a focus on fuel policy, investigating allegations Ryanair uses a bare minimum of fuel and intimidates pilots who raise concerns.

Goss, who had been due to retire in October, is a key figure of Ryanair Pilots Group (RPG), which conducted a survey of more than 1,000 flight crew. According to the RPG survey almost 90% of respondents said the safety culture was nontransparent. Two-thirds said they felt uncomfortable raising safety issues. Ryanair had told pilots anybody signing a "so-called safety petition" might be dismissed.

Pilots interviewed for the programme said they felt pressured to save fuel, the cost of which has hit Ryanair's profits. Following an incident in Spain in which three Ryanair flights declared fuel emergencies after being diverted to Valencia the Spanish Air Authority described Ryanair flights usually landing with a bare minimum of fuel, in a report the airline dismissed as "manifestly inaccurate and factually untrue".

One anonymous pilot interviewed by Channel 4 accused the airline of "threats and bullying". Over 90% of those surveyed wanted a regulatory inquiry, with RPG saying the survey results were passed to the airline and the Irish Aviation Authority. RPG is not recognised by the airline which calls the group "[lacking] any independence, objectivity or reliability" and a union front.

The other pilots interviewed by Channel 4 chose to remain anonymous, with only Goss identifying himself. The airline says RPG only conducted their survey to unionise Ryanair pilots and issued a statement describing the documentary as "based on nothing more than anonymous hearsay claims made by individuals whose identity was concealed, and/or by representatives of pilot unions of Ryanair's competitor airlines masquerading as a non-Ryanair Pilot Group".

Ryanair claim Goss wrote to the airline saying he had no concerns about safety, stating "We will not allow a Ryanair employee to defame our safety on national television just three weeks after he confirmed in writing to Ryanair that he had no concerns with safety and no reason to make any confidential safety report". The airline further say they "look forward to correcting Mr Goss's defamatory claims in court".

Channel 4 have previously stated an intent to defend the legal action against them.


Some information contained in this article was obtained from television, radio, or live webcast sources. Reporter's notes and the broadcast source details are available at the collaboration page.