By Daniel Machin
Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary believes that his airline's safety record has been justified after securing an out-of-court settlement with Associated Newspapers.
The newspaper group, which owns the Daily Mail and the Irish Daily Mail, published an article that claimed some Ryanair pilots had safety concerns over the airline's fuel policy.
The terms of the settlement were not released by Ryanair or Associated Newspapers.
The article, which was based on a Channel 4 Dispatches investigation, suggested that the fuel policy may have put passengers flying on the budget airline at risk.
A group that called itself Ryanair Pilot Group reportedly conducted a survey with Ryanair pilots which brought up concerns that the airline was running services with unsafe fuel levels. The group was later found to be chaired by a KLM pilot.
Paul Tweed, a libel lawyer acting for Ryanair, said that the company is now looking to take legal action against Channel 4 over the documentary at the High Court in Dublin.
"Generally speaking we are content to allow the media or anybody else to make whatever claims they want but not inaccurate claims about our safety," O'Leary told reporters outside Belfast High Court.
"We must and will continue to vigorously defend our outstanding safety record."
"Any airline can only survive on reputation of safety."
"It is one of the safest industries generally and as the Irish Aviation Authority has confirmed Ryanair's safety is on a par with the safest airlines in Europe - not the average but with the safest."
In court, Mr Justice Gillen accepted the settlement and allowed Associated Newspapers to read a brief statement.
"In relation to the three fuel emergency landings in Valencia over 12 months ago on July 26 we accept that the official report produced by the Irish safety agencies confirmed that all three aircraft took on extra fuel, all three aircraft flew for over one hour more than planned (due to adverse weather and diversions from Madrid to Valencia)," Michael Kealey, representing Associated Newspapers, said.
"All three aircraft fully complied with EU safety rules when landing safely in Valencia."
"Ryanair has made clear that if pilots have legitimate safety concerns they should report them either directly to Ryanair, or to the Irish Aviation Authority, using their confidential safety reporting systems," Mr Kealey added.
"We also accept the recent confirmation issued by the independent Irish Aviation Authority that Ryanair's safety is on a par with the safest airlines in Europe and acknowledge Ryanair's industry leading 29-year safety record."