Disgruntled pilots for the low cost airline Ryanair have gone on record claiming they are being forced to put lives at risk by running jets with limited fuel.
Speaking to Dutch television programme, four anonymous pilots claim they are being bullied by management to save fuel and are on the brink of making distress calls over fear of running dry.
Weight saving is one of the many pillars of hypermiling and in theory it makes complete sense to minimise the weight of the aircraft to save fuel. However The pilots claim the stress’ of the running on fumes is affecting their decision-making and thus putting passengers lives in danger.
Ryanair has strongly denied the claims and saying that its pilots were allowed to take as much fuel as they wished to take. However Ryanair was told to review procedures when it was revealed that three jets had to make emergency landings in Valencia, Spain, due to low fuel on the SAME day.
Speaking to the mailonline, a spokesman for Ryaniar said, “These claims have no validity and originate from a Dutch TV programme which featured anonymous contributors in darkened rooms. The reason these anonymous contributors did not want their identities revealed is because there was no truth to their claims”.
We did some digging in Ryanair’s 2011 Annual report, here’s a little snippet:
As noted, our fuel bill rose by 37% to 1.2bn as oil prices rose from $62 per barrel to $73 per barrel.
Fuel now accounts for 40% of our cost base. Next year our fuel bill will rise by over 350 million, even
though we are 90% hedged at $82 per barrel. Higher oil prices will inevitably force many of our high fare
competitors to further increase fuel surcharges thus making Ryanair’s low fares even more attractive.
The report went on to say that they had “tactically” grounded up to 80 aircraft in the period to protect themselves by operating losses.
Obviously fuel costs are a massive part of Ryanair’s costs and it seems logical to help reduce fuel usage for its fleet, but savings at the expense of passenger and public safety is sheer lunacy.
There’s currently no indication that Ryanair will face an inquiry by the UK Civil Aviation Authority following these claims, however we’ll keep you posted on Ryanair’s Hypermiling / fuel saving efforts.