No-frills airlines are accused over safety

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The Independent Online

Ryanair is one of the least popular budget carriers among travellers and its management has the worst reputation among pilots, a report in Which? magazine says. Referring to a study by a Leicester University researcher, the magazine says there are high levels of tiredness and stress among flight crew working for low-cost airlines.

A spokesman for the European Cockpit Association pointed out that no airline had used aircraft as intensively as low-cost carriers. "It puts a lot of pressure on everybody involved. Pilots are anxious and can take short cuts." He said the association got more complaints from its members about Ryanair than any other airline. Many of those were about pressure from management to perform. One anonymous Ryanair pilot who spoke to Which? said the situation "could easily lead to an accident".

The magazine says Ryanair and easyJet are rated poorly by passengers for comfort, cleanliness and seat allocation. Some budget carriers such as Ryanair and are "sidestepping" their responsibilities to customers under European regulations covering cancelled and delayed flights.

Ryanair said it would be "very rare indeed" that any pilot on its rosters would feel either fatigued or exhausted. The airline added that it had the lowest turnover among pilots of any major airline. A spokeswoman for easyJet said low-cost airlines often exceeded regulations on safety.