Ireland’s budget airline Ryanair has responded with great anger to a recent incident in which a Spanish police officer boarded a Ryanair flight carrying a concealed gun.

The policeman was off-duty at the time but still took the undeclared firearm on board with him on a Spanish domestic Ryanair flight.

The crew managed to discover the weapon before the plane took off. The officer was removed from the flight.

Ryanair has lodged an official protest, arguing that the gun present on the flight endangered the lives of 173 passengers on the flight. The airline has launched a formal complaint to the Spanish Government, the Spanish Ambassador in Ireland, and the Irish Report of Foreign Affairs.

Ryanair spokesman Stephen McNamara has called for a change in the law where Spanish legislation allows police officers to carry firearms on domestic flights, even when they are not working.

"Passengers, including police officers or army personnel are forbidden from bringing firearms on board Irish registered aircraft," McNamara said.

"Last week, a Spanish policeman boarded a Ryanair flight carrying a firearm.

"Ryanair has banned the passenger from travelling with Ryanair again.

"We have reported this safety breach to the Spanish police, and have lodged a complaint with the Spanish Ambassador to Ireland and the Department of Foreign Affairs.

"We have also complained to the Spanish government, who we are urging to take measures to prevent a repeat of such instances."

Ryanair has been in conflict with Spanish authorities before, most recently in the last month.

The airline announced early this week that they were cutting three of their routes from Britain to some Spanish airports after a row over taxes that have to be paid on arrival in Spain.

Fees paid by airlines to land in Madrid and Barcelona are due to be doubled as the country fights against recession.

The three routes between British and Spanish airports will cease in November.

On Monday, chief executive Michael O’Leary said, "Ryanair objects to the Spanish government’s
decision to double airport taxes at both Madrid and Barcelona airports.

"Sadly, this will lead to severe traffic, tourism and job cuts at both airports this winter."

Passengers board a Ryanair flightBloomberg