Monthly Archives: May 2010

Ryanair and the tale of the illegal subsidy

Ryanair, the World’s most hated airline, have recently had an extension to their “contract” to provide flights into and out of Lübeck airport in Germany for another 2 years.

For those wondering where the hell Lübeck is, Ryanair refer to it as Hamburg. It’s far from it, literally. A quick calculation on Google maps shows it being an over an hours coach journey away.

Anyhow, back to the story…

Lübeck is just one of around 200 small, regional airstrips across Europe that Ryanair apparently use to generate hundreds of millions of subsidy payments.

A spokesman for Lufthansa said “If we removed all aid and subsidies received by Ryanair, the company would show a very different economic balance sheet”.

Pending the conclusion of a number of European investigations into illegal subsidies, French newspapers have assessed the situation and believe that these subsidies amount to about 35 million euros in France alone. They base this on the audits carried out at several French airports controlled by local authorities.

Across Europe as a whole they reckon this figure is nearer 660 million euros!!!

Airports funded by state and local taxes and subsidies provide so many free services to Ryanair that the Irish carrier is almost always the better off as part of these agreements.

Some airports do not just provide free staff and check-in desks for Ryanair, it is claimed that they are also responsible for free cleaning of aircraft. Ryanair planes also often have the right to free use of airstrips.

All of this, according to the audits, seems to fall under the guise of “marketing assistance” which basically means that Ryanair will feature these provincial towns in their magazine, on their website and of course that they will bring a few people along for a visit.

In some cases, the net subsidy is up to about 32 euros per passenger, as in Rodez, where Ryanair received more than 3.2 million euros between 2004 and 2006 for only three flights per week in each direction.

Some airports are struggling to pay such sums. Take Bergerac for example, Ryanair has received 2.3 million euros in subsidies from the airport, which has itself been asking for 500,000 euros in aid from the region government in order to avoid bankruptcy.

Currently, airports who refuse to pay run the risk of Ryanair disappearing overnight and reopening a few days later somewhere down the road, in the middle of nowhere.

If Ryanair can behave this way it is because there is no limit to the amount of subsidies that a company may apply to the regions. The company is not obligated to repay any of the aid even if there is a suspension of service.

Until last spring, the issue of competition between airlines and government assistance was mainly managed by the Directorate of Transport of the European Commission. However, things should change now that the new Commission took office, and the European Commissioner for Competition is responsible for competition issues and state aid for all sectors of the economy. According to sources at Lufthansa, this means that the remaining five or six complaints about subsidies received by Ryanair should rapidly be examined and judged.

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Le Figaro claim French Ryanair crew not paying taxes as required by EU law

French crew from Ryanair, the World’s most hated airline, are allegedly not fully paying tax, social insurance and pension contributions as required by EU law according to the French newspaper Le Figaro.

Ryanair are whinging that the claims are completely false and have notified crews that it will close the Marseille base in November if challenged by the Aix-en-Provence prosecutor.

Michael O’Leary moaned “We are not prepared to have our good name and reputation damaged by these unattributed leaks in the French media or by an unjustified ongoing investigation.

If the French authorities don’t want us to invest in bases and jobs at regional airports, then we will simply move those aircraft and jobs elsewhere.”

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Ryanair set to appeal against 3 million euro fines for stranding passengers in Italy

Ryanair, the World’s most hated airline, are set to appeal against the decision by Enac, the Italian civil aviation authority, over the 3 million euro fine for leaving passengers stranded at Italian airports during the volcanic ash crisis.

Ryanair are moaning that the fine is “biased”. Enac have confirmed that Ryanair breached European rules 178 times. The rules state that all passengers flying into or out of the EU with a European airline are entitled to a refund or to be re-routed. Those who chose to be re-routed have the right to food and accommodation while they wait for the next flight.

Ryanair reckon they were not given enough time to contest the allegations before the fine was issued.

Italy’s aviation watchdog has since re-affirmed the legitimacy of the fines.  Ryanair have actually admitted in their statement yesterday that they asked disrupted passengers to submit a claim for reimbursement of hotel expenses.

This did not comply with EU regulations.

Pay up Ryanair!

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Ryanair in childish whinging rant about recent airspace closures due to volcanic ash

Ryanair, the World’s most hated airline, are whinging once again about the current system in place to protect airlines from volcanic ash following the most recent disruptions.

London Heathrow and London Gatwick had been affected early on Monday but operator BAA subsequently stated that restrictions were lifted at around 11:00am – a decision which sparked a typically childish whinging moan from Ryanair about it not being fair and that they would stamp their feet and cry until something was done about it.

Ryanair claims the London Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre forecasting is “substantially fictitious”.

Seems somewhat odd that this is the same Ryanair that cancelled flights recently due to “ash” while every other airline flying the same routes was operating as normal. About.com’s Guide to Spain Travel quote somebody from the UK air regulatory industry as saying that “It was entirely a business decision on Ryanair’s part to cease all flights while others were still flying. There was no technical issue that he was aware of.”.

Hmmmm…

Ryanair then added “It would appear that there is one model for air safety for all other UK airports, but when it threatens the opening of Gatwick and Heathrow, these [forecasts] are simply ignored.”

Ryanair is insisting that the UK adopt a system whereby airspace within a 60mi (100km) radius around a volcano is declared hazardous, but airlines are permitted to fly outside of this zone as long as ash is not visibly present. If ash is detected on the airframe after landing, the carrier follows manufacturers’ guidelines.

“There cannot be one safety model for busy London airports, and a different safety model for smaller regional airports” moaned Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary.

Have you ever heard so much drivel in your life? Pathetic.

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Ryanair fined 3 million euros by Italian aviation authority for failing in passenger care

Ryanair, the World’s most hated airline, have been fined 3 million euros (£2.5m) for failing to help passengers after cancelling their flights during the volcanic ash crisis.

The Italian civil aviation authority said that it knew of 178 cases where passengers did not receive mandatory assistance, such as food, between 17 and 22 April. This is quite despicable behaviour.

Ryanair are in typical fashion denying the allegations and claim they are “complete rubbish”.

“Ryanair fully complies with EU [Regulation] 261 and has been complimented by the EU,” the spokeswoman said.

Italy’s air agency, Enac, accused Ryanair of failing to provide passengers at Rome’s Ciampino airport with drinks, foods and accommodation as required by European law.

Enac found that most other airlines had managed to meet their obligations despite the difficult circumstances. Ryanair obviously think they are above the law.

Under EU Regulation 261, if a flight is cancelled, those flying with European carriers into or out of the EU have the right to a refund or to be re-routed.

If passengers chose the latter, they have the right to care – such as accommodation and meals – while they wait.

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-05-14

  • RT @matthavenhand: If you want to know just how appalling Ryanair is just read the wiki page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ryanair #
  • RT @david_din: No client service: After two days of not flying out of Porto in Portugal, Ryanair has only 2 check-in counters open. #ryanair #
  • RT @lorcan: So are all airlines systematically blaming the volcano for delays that are their fault, or is it just #ryanair #
  • RT @mckelvaney: Ryanair, your website is shit and I hate that I have to fly with you. #
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Ryanair admits volcanic ash in Belfast engines

Ryanair, the World’s most hated airline, have confirmed that they found volcanic ash in the engines of two of its aircraft at Belfast City Airport.

Four Ryanair flights to England were cancelled at the airport on Sunday, leaving dozens of passengers stranded.

Initially, the airline said the planes all had separate technical problems unrelated to the Icelandic eruption.

But after further tests on Sunday, the airline confirmed that two of its aircraft at the City airport showed small traces of ash in their engines.

The planes returned to service yesterday according to a Ryanair spokesman.

“These aircraft will return to service once the manufacturer’s approved procedures for return to service in such cases has been completed by Ryanair’s engineers,” he said on Sunday.

He added that there “was no risk and no cause for concern.”

The planes had flown in UK airspace which was open and unrestricted at the time.

The spokesman said Ryanair cannot explain why there was ash in the engines other than there are trace elements of it in the atmosphere.

A Ryanair aircraft was forced to make a precautionary landing this morning, in Belfast, due to an acrid smell in the cabin.

Interesting…

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Ryanair plane in precautionary landing at Belfast City airport

An aircraft belonging to Ryanair, the World’s most hated airline, and travelling to London Stansted has made a precautionary landing at Belfast City Airport after taking off on Tuesday.

A spokesperson for Ryanair said: “After take off cabin crew noticed an acrid smell and standard procedure was followed and the aircraft turned back and landed”.

All 154 passengers disembarked safely at about 0730 BST.

Passenger Andy Patterson said:”There was a slight delay before the flight as they were checking out the engines.

“Slightly after take off there was a distinct smell of fumes in the cabin. A short while later the pilot came over the tannoy and said we would return to Belfast as a precautionary measure”, he added.

A spokesperson from Belfast City Airport said emergency services were at the scene as a precaution.

The source of the smell is being investigated.

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