MADRID — The head of budget airline Ryanair Tuesday defended the company's policy of asking pregnant women in Spain to provide a medical certificate -- in English -- proving they are safe to fly.
"There is a rule that every pregnant woman if they are late in the pregnancy need a doctor's letter to confirm that they are safe to fly - yes, we need that letter in English," Michael O'Leary told a news conference in Madrid.
His comments followed a complaint by a consumers association, FACUA, last week which condemned as "illegal" Ryanair's policy of requiring a certificate in English for women who are 28 weeks or more into their pregancy
"FACUA in the next few days will call on the relevant authorities to consider that this practice is abusive by requiring that the document is presented in a non-official language of the state."
The group said passengers prevented from boarding because of the policy "have the right to claim financial compensation" from Ryanair.
O'Leary said said he was aware of an "incident" recently over the policy.
However he said "it is a very simple letter" that is required. "All it says is that the doctor signs that the lady is safe to fly and as long as the doctor says that they are safe to fly then we accept that.
"We are going to put a form of that notice up on the website so that it is available for any doctor to download it and sign it and the passenger can bring it with them.
"We are not trying to make it difficult for pregnant ladies to fly with us. Clearly ladies who are in the late stage of pregnancy, there is a safety issue, over their safety and the safety of the child and we have to put safety first."
Ryanair said last year it had overtaken Spanish flag carrier Iberia as the largest airline in Spain in terms of the number of passengers carried.
In the first seven months of this year, it transported 19.6 million passengers in Spain compared to 14.6 million for Iberia, according to Spain's airport authority AENA.
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