Ryanair set to launch compensation bid

18-08-2006

Low-cost airline Ryanair is expected to outline possible legal action against the government over losses incurred by the company as a result of tighter airport security measures introduced in the wake of the alleged terror plot to bomb transatlantic airliners.

In a statement posted on the Irish company's website earlier this week, Ryanair condemned the new security measures as "nonsensical and ineffective".

The no-frills airline, which revealed yesterday that it was considering suing the government under the terms of the Transport Act 2000, is expected to provide further details of the possible legal action which it has encouraged other airlines to support.

A campaign "to keep Britain flying" is also set to be launched by Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary.

Ryanair is one of many airlines who have criticised the implementation of additional security restrictions on hand luggage following last week's terror alert, with carriers forced to cancel a number of flights in order to ease subsequent congestion at the country's airports.

Ryanair has been particularly critical of procedures adopted by airport operator BAA at Stansted airport, accusing the company of failing to provide enough additional staff to oversee the tougher security checks.

The airline said on its website that if the government was determined to 'double' the number of security checks faced by air passengers, then it should "send in extra army or police personnel" to help BAA carry out the additional checks.

It also questioned the "nonsensical" decision by ministers to allow large briefcases to be carried on board flights because they were deemed 'safe', while rejecting normal sized carry-on cases as 'unsafe'.

Ryanair chief Mr O’Leary added that the best way to defeat terrorism would be for the government "to show leadership and return air travel in Britain to normal" in the same way ministers led a return to the "normalisation" of travel on the London Underground following last year's July 7th terrorist bombings.

Other airlines are taking a different approach to try and recoup losses incurred as a result of flight delays and cancellations experienced due to increased airport security.

British Airways (BA) said earlier this week that it would not take legal action against the government, but has indicated that it is considering seeking compensation from airport operator BAA after being forced to cancel more than 1,000 flights at the height of Britain's latest security scare.

Rival airline Virgin Atlantic has also confirmed that it does not intend to sue the state, but is seeking to discuss with the Department of Transport (DfT) how its losses can be recovered.


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