19 June 2002
Budget airlines hit back at allegation that pilots sacrifice safety for speed
By Barrie Clment and Michael Harrison
Budget airlines angrily rejected
an allegation yesterday that their pilots jeopardise safety to
An unnamed air traffic controller
accused flight crew employed by "no-frills" carriers of
Sometimes they fly so quickly
that they get too close to aircraft in front and have to abort
At other times, pilots ignore designated flight paths designed to minimise noise impact and take short cuts across densely populated areas.
The controller said pilots
were working under "extreme pressure ... to achieve programmed
"It is occurring with increasing frequency and, in my judgement, is due in part to the aggressively commercial ethos that exists within some airline companies," the controller said, urging Chirp to act "before it reaches a level with the potential to compromise safety".
The report was understood to
refer largely to Ryanair,
a low-cost airline based at Stansted
EasyJet said it was a common misconception that short cuts were taken by budget airlines because fares were cheaper than more traditional carriers. A spokesman said: "Low-cost airlines have to work almost doubly hard on safety. If we have an accident, it would probably kill the airline. There's absolute zero tolerance on jeopardising or questioning safety."
The company said safety was
"absolutely of paramount importance", adding that all of its
A spokeswoman for KLM's budget airline, Buzz, said: "All our pilots are KLM-trained. I am very surprised by this allegation."
Officials at Go said safety
was "non-negotiable", adding that the airline would launch an
immediate investigation if any pilot disregarded air control instructions.
"The success of the
One senior controller told
The Independent that instances of pilots cutting corners was
"Sometimes we pick up a degree of irritation from pilots who are under pressure from companies and passengers."
* British Airways launched
its fight back against the no-frills carriers yesterday, cutting fares