Low-budget airline Ryanair has said it will sue the British government for £3.3 million over flight cancellations and lost bookings caused by the 'critical' level security restrictions placed on UK airports two weeks ago.
The government's implementation of the extreme level of security measures, introduced in the wake of the foiling of an alleged plot to blow up several transatlantic airliners, has been described as "nonsensical and ineffective "by Ryanair's chief executive, Michael O'Leary.
Ryanair has criticised the specific details of the security measures introduced. It argues that the decision to enforce luggage restrictions on just outbound UK flights is "illogical" and says that "many families, elderly couples and young children" being searched is "patently nonsensical".
"The DfT [Department for Transport] is undermining the credibility of UK airport security and pandering to the extremists by continuing to require these nonsensical and ineffective measures," Mr O'Leary said.
"We should not be moved - the way to defeat terrorism is to get back to normal. It is a pity that the UK government has so far failed to adopt the same rock solid approach it took when it successfully restored the London Underground to normal within two days of the July 7th attacks."
Although Ryanair has stated that its claim deals with lost earnings during the week of August 10th-16th only, Mr O'Leary has admitted that the legal action has a political element which targets the Department of Transport (DfT).
"The purpose of this claim is to encourage the DfT to restore UK airport security to the effective… norm, and to prevent similar breakdowns at UK airports during future security scares by putting in the necessary police and army personnel to carry out the extra security checks," Mr O'Leary explained.
Responding to Ryanair's announcement, a DfT spokesperson rejected the airline's claim that it has a case.
"As we made clear last week we continue to face a serious security threat and we will not compromise security," the DfT spokesperson said.
"Aviation security measures are directed under the Aviation Security Act 1982 which does not have any provisions for compensation."