'Incompetent' | 

Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary tells Eamon Ryan to fix Dublin Airport drone problem ‘or resign’

“If this was somebody blocking a bicycle lane in Ranelagh, he would be on it before lunchtime,” said Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary.

Environment Minister Eamon Ryan. Photo: Frank McGrath

Ryanair group CEO Michael O'Leary. Photo: PA

A warning sign against the use of drones on the perimeter fencing at Dublin airport (Niall Carson/PA)© Niall Carson

Maeve McTaggartSunday World

Minister Eamon Ryan has been told to sort out Dublin Airport’s drone problem “or resign” by Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary.

The airline group CEO has spoken out after flights at the airport were suspended for a sixth time in six weeks yesterday.

On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, he accused the Transport Minister of being “simply incompetent” and called on him to “take down the bloody drones” that keep grounding flights.

“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.

Ryanair group CEO Michael O'Leary. Photo: PA

“It is not good enough and if he is not prepared to tackle the issue, he should resign.”

The Ryanair chief said three of the airline’s planes were diverted to Belfast and Shannon due to yesterday’s disruption and the solution is as simple as investing €100,000 into “drone-disabling technology.”

“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.

A warning sign against the use of drones on the perimeter fencing at Dublin airport (Niall Carson/PA)© Niall Carson

“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.”

Mr O’Leary slammed the disruptions as “unacceptable,” especially to an island that depends on aviation “to be able to connect to the UK and to Europe.”

“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.”

He added: “[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?”

The airline boss took to Twitter to share an apology with passengers impacted by disruptions yesterday.

"It’s unacceptable, that we have the incompetent minister for transport, who has done nothing for five weeks, to protect Dublin Airport from these drone strikes,” he said in a video.

"I want to apologise to our passengers that have been diverted this evening and I would call on them to write to Eamon Ryan to call for him to stop holding meetings and to stop talking about acting and have actual action.”

It is illegal to fly a drone within 5km of the airport.

Graeme McQueen, spokesman for airport operator daa, said the drone was spotted at 6.27pm this evening, forcing the airport authority to immediately shut down the only functioning runway for safety reasons.

Flights resumed around 7pm after the short delay, Dublin Airport confirmed. It added that three flights had to be “diverted as a result of this reckless and illegal activity of flying a drone within 5km of Dublin Airport”.

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