A group that says it represents more than 50% of Ryanair pilots has called on the company to enter into negotiations on industrial relations and professional matters.

The Ryanair Pilot Group held its first news conference in Brussels this morning.

It said it represented more than half of pilots directly employed by the company and more than 50% of those on contract.

Captain Evert van Zwol, the group's chairman, said Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O'Leary gave a commitment last August that he would engage with the group's representatives if they had the support of more than 1,601 company pilots.

Mr van Zwol said the group now had "well over" that figure.

Asked if he would hand over a list to Ryanair of the pilots who had registered with the group, Mr van Zwol said he would not give the names to the company.

However, he said he would allow the group's membership to be independently verified.

In a letter sent from the group to Mr O'Leary, Mr van Zwol said: "We will be very happy to agree a mutually convenient time and location to open discussions on behalf of the majority of pilots flying for Ryanair."

He told the news conference that he hoped pilots currently working for Ryanair would "sooner rather than later" take over leadership positions in the group.

There are no existing Ryanair pilots on the RPG Interim Council.

Mr Van Zwol said due to a "vortex of litigation" initiated by Ryanair against the group, they would not be making any comment about safety issues.

One of the group's leaders, Captain John Goss, who attended today's conference, was fired by Ryanair after appearing in a Channel 4 documentary that discussed aspects of the airline's operations.

Captain Goss said because Ryanair was currently taking legal proceedings against him, he would not comment other than to say he was "very grateful" for the unwavering support of the Ryanair Pilot Group and pilots around the world.

In response, Ryanair issued a single sentence statement: "We don't comment on the activity or false claims of KLM or Aer Lingus pilots."

The statement alludes, in part, to the fact that no pilot currently employed by Ryanair is in a leadership position in the Ryanair Pilots Group.

It also suggests that the chances of talks taking place between the two sides any time soon are very remote.