The UK’s largest passenger airline, Ryanair, has resigned from the country’s Aviation Council, labelling it a “talking shop which delivers no benefits, no reform and no change”.
CEO Michael O’Leary made the announcement on the day of the council’s third meeting, after sending a letter to its chair Baroness Vere, saying: “We joined the UK Aviation Council in February when Transport Minister Mark Harper assured us it would be used as a ‘delivery body’ to improve the resilience of UK aviation. Sadly, this has proved to be an empty promise.
“There has been no action, no delivery and no improvement in UK aviation and the council has become a talking shop for Baroness Vere, bureaucrats and the CAA to waffle on about reform while delivering none.”
O’Leary also accused the government of taking no action on the five measures introduced by Irish carrier Ryanair at the council’s first meeting in February.
Those measures were: improving air traffic control staffing to reduce delays, pushing for effective air space reform in Europe, improving border control staffing, reducing UK visa costs from £3,000 to £1,000 per person and restoring temporary IDs at UK airports to improve staffing for this summer season.
In response to O’Leary’s claims, a government spokesperson said: “The Aviation Council was set up to bring the industry and government together to address shared challenges facing the sector and ensure the UK aviation sector remains one of the strongest and most successful in the world.”
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However, O’Leary said that the government should disband the “useless” council and Baroness Vere should instead work directly with the UK’s major airlines to “deliver real and effective change”.
While Vere has not yet directly responded to the airline’s resignation, she posted about the recent council meeting on Twitter, saying: “The only way we can build a modern, innovative and forward-facing sector is by working with the aviation industry.”
Touching on that meeting in its resignation announcement, Ryanair said that a proposal to set up a working group to promote UK airspace modernisation would not deliver “effective and efficient modernisation”, as it would not be reporting until April 2024.
The news comes amid a period of strong growth for the airline, which recently made a company-record order for up to 300 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.