Belfast Telegraph

Ryanair boss: Let air stewardesses land planes

Ryanair chief Michael O'Leary has called for flights to carry only one pilot instead of two, suggesting that air stewardesses could be trained to land planes in an emergency.

His provocative comments were immediately dismissed by the British Airline Pilots' Association (BALPA) as "unwise and unsafe".

One senior pilot predicted that such a move would also prove to be a "recipe for business disaster."

Mr O'Leary, 49, who has headed the no-frills carrier for 17 years, made his comments in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek magazine.

"Really, you only need one pilot. Let's take out the second pilot. Let the bloody computer fly it," he told the publication.

In the event of the lone pilot suffering a heart attack a stewardess trained to land the plane would step in and save the day.

"If the pilot has an emergency, he rings the bell, he calls her in," O'Leary said. "She could take over."

A BALPA spokesman said: "Are there no lengths to which he will not go to get publicity?

"His suggestion is unwise, unsafe and the public will be horrified."

The comments were also criticised by a senior pilot, who wished to remain anonymous, who said: "The public have no wish to be flown at cheap rate into their graves.

"By ditching a pilot Mr O'Leary may think that he will be laughing all the way to the bank, but he would soon see the public desert him.

"In reality, it would be a recipe for business disaster, with the public deserting the airline in droves."

Mr O'Leary's suggestion is just the latest in a long line of provocative headline-grabbing public pronouncements aimed at cutting costs.

Previously he has announced introducing coin-operated toilets on Ryanair flights and charging passengers £1 to spend a penny.

He has also suggested introducing seatless aircraft with passengers hanging on to a hand-rail during take-off and landing.

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