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RyanAir CEO says Eamon Ryan ‘sitting on his hands’ over anti drone technology for Dublin Airport

Dublin Airport Authority have confirmed they have received fresh commitment from Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan that action will be taken to tackle the ongoing issue of illegal drone activity which caused delays and diversions to flights again yesterday. 

Yesterday’s disruption was the sixth time in as many weeks that the flying of illegal drones has caused disruption at the airport leading RyanAir CEO Michael O’Leary to call on Eamon Ryan to fix the issue or resign saying the minister is ‘sitting on his hands’. 

O’Leary said that most European airports already have anti drone technology in place and that it is “not expensive” saying it costs approximately 100,000 and is operated by airport police. 

He continued that Dublin was the only major EU airport to face so much disruption from drones. 

“Every time for the last six weeks it’s been shut, Minister Ryan is holding meetings, he’s promising action, he’s meeting stakeholders, which of course is political speak for doing nothing,” he said. 

Operations at the airport were suspended for approximately 30 minutes yesterday and three flights had to be diverted. 

Minister Ryan is scheduled to bring a memo to cabinet for the acquisition of anti drone technology and to clarify the regulatory and legal framework required to put the measures in place next Tuesday. 

Speaking on RTE News Ryan said he would be engaging with the DAA, Aviation Authority, An Garda Siochana, and the Defense Forces to ensure the technology was put in place saying “we do need it”.

He said the airport needs to be able to do a variety of things including being able to “detect drones and bring them down in a safe way”. 

Ryan said that while the Government was committed to taking action to ensure the illegal drone issue was dealt with, the issue was “not as simple” as the RyanAir CEO was ‘making it out to be’. 

He rebuked suggestions from O’Leary that he ‘wasn’t allowing’ the DAA to purchase the necessary equipment saying that it was vital that the technology that will provide the ‘best defensive capability’ was purchased. 

The minister also emphasised the need to be able to prosecute those responsible for flying illegal drones in the vicinity of the airport and punish them accordingly. 

As to why it has taken the minister six weeks to bring a memo to cabinet when anti drone technology is well established Ryan answered that the issues surrounding drones were ‘changing and evolving’ and made reference to the war in Ukraine. 

The minister said that action to prevent further disruptions would take a number of weeks and “won’t be instantaneous” and that the Aviation Authority should make use of the two runways at Dublin Airport to alleviate drone disruption adding that those responsible were chasing “headlines” and wished to see the airport closed. 

Minister Ryan said the delay in getting anti drone technology off the ground at Dublin airport was due to him spending last year “trying to keep Dublin Airport open” and  make sure the right security staff were in place.

He also said he had given major focus to ensuring that both the airport and airlines survived through the covid period.  

Michael O’Leary said that ‘15 year jail sentences’ were not what was needed but that the minister should simply allow Dublin Airport to purchase the necessary technology and stop ‘wasting time’ on meetings and the drawing up of legislation. 

“We need that done today” he said adding, “we don’t need a memo to cabinet next Tuesday”. 

O’Leary said that, “Last night we had three flights diverted to Shannon and Belfast” adding that 500 passengers “had been taken to an airport that they didn’t want to go to”, and that 20,000 passengers suffered from diversions and delays. 

 “It is time for minister Ryan to take action or resign” he said adding, “Frankly we think he’s incompetent, he’s sat on his hands for the last five or six weeks doing nothing”. 

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