Ryanair pulled out of a key advisory group launched by the UK government to support its aviation strategy, slamming the body as a “talking shop” that delivered no real change for passengers or the sector.
Michael O’Leary, the budget airlines combative CEO, said yesterday that aviation minister Baroness Vere should disband the “useless council,” instead of wasting her time “holding a quarterly talking shop, at which she promises action but delivers none.”
“Ryanair has better things to do with our time than waste it on her useless and ineffective Aviation Council, and so we have written today to Baroness Vere to resign from this council with immediate effect,” he added.
The UK Aviation Council was established in February at the behest of Transport Secretary Mark Harper, in order to help the industry overcome hurdles such as sustainability and consumer rights.
Chaired by Baroness Vere and Gatwick’s Chief Executive Stewart Wingate, the body includes major airline bosses from British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and a slew of other industry leaders.
However, in a statement yesterday afternoon, O’Leary claimed “there has been no action, no delivery, and no improvement in UK aviation, and the council has become a talking shop for Baroness Vere, Govt bureaucrats and the CAA to waffle on about reform while delivering none.”
The budget airline said its concerns had repeatedly been ignored by the minister, with “no action whatsoever over the past six months.”
Chief among these are requests for improved staffing to mitigate delays caused by ongoing French Air Traffic Controller strikes, as well as calls to reduce UK visa costs and improve border control processing times.
The Dublin-headquartered firm also highlighted the Aviation Council’s decision making delays, with the body not set to report on reforms aimed at promoting UK airspace “modernisation,” until 2024.
“Ryanair regrettably concludes that this UK Aviation Council is a useless talking shop, which has failed to deliver any action or practical measures to improve UK aviation,” the carrier said.
Ryanair and its notorious chief have not held back in criticising government in recent months, with O’Leary describing Baroness Vere as “not the brightest sandwich in the picnic basket,” in April.
Of paramount concern to the low-cost carrier is the ongoing impact of French ATC strikes, which have seen Ryanair cancel 4,000 flights in 2023 and launch a petition urging EU Commission chief Ursula Von Der Leyen to add additional protection for overflights.
The government was contacted for comment.