Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary Blames Air Traffic Control Meltdown on Remote Engineers

Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary Blames Air Traffic Control Meltdown on Remote Engineers

Ryanair CEO Blames Air Traffic Control Meltdown on Remote Engineers

Michael O’Leary, the CEO of Ryanair, has made a bold claim that the Air Traffic Control system failure in August, which resulted in over 2,000 flight cancellations and 4,000 delays on the Summer Bank Holiday, was exacerbated by computer engineers working from home.

Thousands of Flights Affected

The repercussions of the Air Traffic Control malfunction were significant, affecting more than 300,000 travelers in the UK, across Europe, and beyond.

Many found themselves stranded without accommodations, food, or a way home due to flight cancellations and delays.

O’Leary’s Accusations

During his appearance before MPs on the transport committee, Michael O’Leary expressed his fury towards National Air Traffic Services (NATS), blaming them for the crisis.

He alleged that the situation was worsened because some computer system engineers, who were crucial during such crises, were working remotely from their homes.

O’Leary stated, “Engineers were sitting at home watching morning TV instead of being where they are supposed to be.”

NATS Responds

Officials at NATS confirmed that they did utilize engineers working remotely but firmly denied that this had a negative impact.

They contended that remote access allowed them to respond more swiftly and effectively to the situation.

Financial Implications for Airlines

The cost of assisting stranded customers due to the system failure has been estimated to be approximately £100 million.

This financial burden is expected to be passed on to travelers through higher airfares.

Ryanair, in particular, has incurred costs of £15 million, which Michael O’Leary believes NATS should be responsible for covering.

Calls for CEO Resignation

O’Leary did not hold back, criticizing the chief executive of NATS, Martin Rolfe, who had his pay doubled to £1.3 million this year.

O’Leary called for him to be stripped of bonuses and even dismissed, stating, “I don’t believe he should continue as chief executive of NATS; he should resign or be dismissed.”

Root Cause of the System Failure

The system failure was attributed to a software glitch linked to the flight plan of a single long-haul flight passing through British airspace.

It occurred because two waypoints along the flight’s route had duplicate identification references.

NATS maintains that they had the right number of air traffic controllers and on-site engineers and that the ability for remote access to engineers was a modern and efficient approach.

Reimbursement Issue

On the issue of reimbursing airlines for their costs, Martin Rolfe explained the complexity of the situation, saying it “goes back to effectively the way NATS is constructed.”

He expressed understanding for the airlines’ frustration regarding the expenses they had to incur due to the crisis.