Ryanair boss furious at BBC 'hatchet job'

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The Independent Travel

Michael O'Leary has branded a BBC documentary on Ryanair to be aired tonight as "a hatchet job" and "rubbish-filled".

The airline's chief executive has refused to appear on BBC TV's 'Panorama' after a furious bust-up with the programme makers over his right to reply.

The Dublin-based airline is so angry with the 30-minute episode - even before it has been aired -- that it has published 25 pages of e-mail correspondence with programme makers on its website.

The breakdown in relations between Ryanair and 'Panorama' has generated huge interest on the internet, and is set to give the BBC One documentary a huge ratings boost both in Ireland and the UK.

Ryanair is particularly angry at claims in the programme that Michael O'Leary referred to his staff as "lemons".

He denied 'Panorama' allegations that he once said of his staff: "We cut them in half, we squeeze the juice and then we throw them away."

The furious chief executive fired off an angry reply to 'Panorama' reporter Vivian White, denying ever referring to Ryanair staff as lemons.

"Given that I am so widely reported, I think you will find that it doesn't exist," he said. "This and many of the other claims you make are simply manufactured and untrue."

The airline is also angry over BBC claims that it imposed "hidden charges" on customers and accused the programme of trying to create a row between it and aircraft maker Airbus.

Relations between the firm and 'Panorama' have broken down to the extent that when the reporter asked to attend last month's Ryanair AGM, the airline refused.