The Transport Minister must fix Dublin Airport’s drone problem or resign, Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary has said.
He was speaking after flights were suspended for the sixth time in six weeks at the country’s main airport yesterday.
Flights were grounded for around half an hour, with more than 20,000 passengers delayed as a result.
Minister Ryan is due to meet with the Irish Aviation Authority and airport operator DAA today to discuss the issue.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Mr O’Leary said three Ryanair planes, carrying 500 passengers, were diverted to Belfast and Shannon due to yesterday's disruption.
He said Dublin Airport is the only one in Europe that is failing to deal with the issue and there is a simple technological solution that can be put in place.
"He doesn't like aviation"
He said Minister Ryan must fix the problem or resign.
“We cannot for the life of us understand why Eamon Ryan won’t act on this issue other than he doesn’t like aviation, other than he doesn’t like the fact we live on an island on the edge of Europe,” he said.
“If this was somebody blocking a bicycle lane in Ranelagh, he would be on it before lunchtime.
“But if you want to disable our main airport, he will sit there having meetings, talking to stakeholders and producing memos.
“It is not good enough and if he is not prepared to tackle the issue, he should resign.”
Mr O’Leary said the issue can be tackled with a €100,000 investment in ‘drone-disabling technology’ that is already in use at most airports around Europe.
He said by Dublin Airport police must also be empowered to “take down these drones and fix the problem”.
“Most of our airports across Europe, you have, effectively, a kind of a laser gun or an electronic gun that disables the drone,” he said.
“It is operated by two people - one with a laptop and one with a laser gun - so actually you can identify who is operating the drone.
“It is the airport police on the airfield that can actually take down these drones.
“That eliminates the issue. It also protects the safety of passengers and flights and for five or six weeks, unfortunately, in Ireland, we have had a transport minister who is not taking action on this very cheap and effective initiative.
“He is holding meetings and more meetings and meetings about meetings instead of taking action.
“If he won’t take action on this today, he should resign.”
— Ryanair (@Ryanair) March 2, 2023
The Ryanair CEO said the disruption is "unacceptable".
“We are on an island at the edge of Europe, we depend on aviation to be able to connect to the UK and to Europe and our other markets – to visit friends and family and we have a minister, when our airport is closed five time In five weeks, promising us meetings and complicated legislation and dah dah dah,” he said.
“It is literally waffle, more waffle and no action. It is time for action or get somebody competent to do this job because Minister Ryan is simply incompetent.”
Mr O'Leary suggested airport operator DAA has already purchased the drone-disabling technology - but is waiting for the Government's permission to put it into operation.
He said the technology should be put in place regardless of whether the legislation is ready – arguing, ‘Who is going to sue the Government? The drone operator? I very much doubt it”.
“The airlines, our passengers and our citizens deserve protection,” he said.
“[Minister Ryan] rightly says this is a criminal offence. Let’s stop pandering to the criminals. Let’s take down the bloody drones. It can be done and is being done in every other European airport – why not Dublin?
“We cannot have another week of closures.”
Mr O’Leary said prosecuting drone operators will take months and years, while empowering Dublin Airport police to take down the drones will take about three or four weeks.
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