Although Ryanair is better known for the publicity seeking antics of its CEO, Michael O'Leary, and his attacks on Boeing, Airbus, airport authorities, assorted European governments, city administrators, Ryanair customers and other airlines, it is so upset at reader comments on the Aviation Herald web site that it has threatened to take action for defamation against its author, Simon Hradecky.
While those comments have been temporarily removed, Hradecky is standing his ground.
The incident which lead to a report that generated comments that provoked the threat from Ryanair occurred on 23 September when one of its 737-800s conducted a missed approach to Memmingen in Germany.
That report and the Ryanair response to it can be read here
Ryanair now finds itself in disagreement with the monthly report of the Bundesstelle für Flugunfalluntersuchung, or BFU the German Federal Aviation Safety Investigator, which mentions the serious incident in some detail, as well as Hradecky's summary of the summary, and the some of the comments, now suspended that accompanied the Aviation Herald's report.
In this morning's edition of the Aviation Herald this further article appears
The Aviation Herald has just received notice of immediate legal activity if a number of comments posted by our readers are not immediately removed from a coverage we released in the last few days.
The airline's attorney states: "We have identified a number of comments posted under this article on your website which are defamatory and, as a result of their continued presence thereupon, (the airline's name) outstanding ... safety record has been damaged in the eyes of right-thinking members of society" and continues later "These comments (and others such as these) are deeply damaging to (the airline's name) good name and reputation for safety and may have damaging consequences for bookings. As you will be aware, you are responsible for the content on your website and are liable as a publisher for defamatory statements which you fail to remove after being put on notice. Therefore we hereby notify you that any failure to immediately remove these comments (and others such as these) will result in the immediate issue of legal proceedings for defamation against you ..."
We have forwarded the letter and details concerning the demand by this airline to our legal advisor for advice and further proceedings.
Update: Our legal advisor recommended to temporarily remove those comments until they had sufficient time to completely and carefully assess the whole scenario. We have complied with that recommendation.
Update 2: The airline's legal advisor has threatened further legal proceedings regarding this very article stating their message was marked "strictly confidential and private" and further complaining I quoted their text only in part.
About half a year ago I was still able to say that after 4 years of operation and around 12,000 stories posted The Aviation Herald had not been threatened with legal action despite some interventions that came close to legal threats. It is now the user comments that produce the first direct legal threat against The Aviation Herald ever.
We hold the opinion, that taking such legal action does absolutely no good to the airline involved and actually severely destroys their reputation.
Rest assured to our readers however: we shall continue to side with aviation safety and report aviation safety matters objectively and remain objectively even in case of this particular airline.