Ryanair Condemns EU Commission Bias Against Low Fares Airlines...
RYANAIR CONDEMNS EU COMMISSION BIAS AGAINST LOW FARES AIRLINES AND CALLS FOR AN END TO “NO LOW-FARES AIRLINES” TRAVEL BAN
Ryanair, Europe’s favourite airline, today (29 Mar) called for an end to the EU Commission’s discrimination against low fares airlines (and favouring state owned flag carriers) which was again highlighted by the EU Commission’s ban on booking flights on low fares airlines or reimbursing travel expenses to/from Brussels Charleroi Airport.
Ryanair accused the EU Commission of telling lies about this travel ban when its (unnamed) spokesperson last week denied any such policy existed. At a Brussels press conference today Ryanair released copies of e-mails received from the EU’s travel agency (Amex) which clearly stated “The European Commission does not allow us to book low cost flights, so we can only arrange the transfers from/to Brussels (Zaventem) Airport”. Ryanair also released a letter from the EU Commission (Director for Administration and Payment) which stated “It is true that the terms of this contract do prevent Amex from booking tickets with ‘low-cost’ airlines”.
Ryanair called on the EU Commission to explain why (when it is preaching austerity on EU states and citizens, and is incapable of balancing its own budget) its own travel agency is “prevented” from booking tickets with low cost airlines which would save EU taxpayers millions of euro and many wasted hours (because low cost airlines are more punctual than the flag carriers).
Ryanair believes this Commission prohibition against using low fares airlines as the latest example of its bias against low fare airlines in general, and Ryanair in particular, as the following examples show;
a) The Commission prohibits bookings on low cost airlines while it wastes time and its taxpayer funds flying high cost (frequently delayed) flag carriers
b) The Commission’s travel agency refuses to arrange pick-ups at Brussels Charleroi Airport claiming that it can only do so at high fare Brussels Zaventem
c) The Commission has in recent years rubber-stamped a series of mergers between flag carrier airlines including Air France/KLM/Alitalia, Lufthansa/SN Brussels/Austrian and BA/Iberia/BMI, which collectively account for over 50% of intra-EU air travel, yet prohibited Ryanair’s 2006 offer for Aer Lingus when Aer Lingus accounted for less than 1% of EU air travel.
d) The Commission has repeatedly ignored blatant state aid to EU flag carriers, or (in cases involving Air France and Alitalia) has ruled that state aid existed but the flag carriers were not obliged to repay the illegal aid received.
e) While the Commission repeatedly ignores state aid to flag carriers, it is currently investigating 16 different Ryanair airport agreements despite the fact that the European Court (in 2008) dismissed the Commission’s claims of state aid in the Charleroi case. Despite their failure to appeal this damming EU Court ruling, DG Comp has now reopened the Charleroi case despite the fact that Charleroi has grown to 6m passengers annually and is now trading profitably, thereby complying with the MEIP competition rules.
f) The Commission’s EU261 regulations, which establish high fixed sum compensation amounts of €250 - €400 per day clearly discriminates in favour of EU flag carrier airlines whose average fares are significantly higher than this fixed sum amount whereas the average fare of the EU low fares airlines is a fraction of this compensation limit. The EU Commission’s equivalent regulations for competing coach, ferry and rail operators link these compensation payments to the ticket price paid. Ryanair continues to campaign for reform of the EU261 regulations which would link any compensation paid to the airfare chosen by each passenger at the time of booking.
Speaking in Brussels today Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary said;
“The Amex e-mails and EU Commission letters which we have released today unequivocally admits that the EU Commission “prevents” its travel agency from making bookings on low fare airlines, which would save the hard pressed EU taxpayer millions of Euros each year. Yet all the EU spokesmen can do is lie about it. There is no substance to the Commission’s claims that this prohibition is designed for the “convenience” of its travel agency (i.e. making credit card payments) or the “convenience” of its bureaucrats. This prohibition is a blatant subsidy to EU flag carriers and discriminates yet again against Europe’s low fares airlines which have now overtaken Europe’s flag carriers in terms of passenger popularity.
At a time when the Commission is preaching austerity to Europe’s nation states and citizens, it should take a lead and actively compel both its bureaucrats and its travel agency to book lower cost (more on-time) low fare airlines at Charleroi whenever that option exists over the high fare, fuel surcharging, frequently delayed flag carriers at Brussels Zaventem and elsewhere.
The Commission’s ban on low fare airline travel is just the latest in a series of actions which blatantly discriminate against Europe’s low fare airlines while the Commission continues to turn a blind eye to the €billions of state aid being received by flag carriers as the Commission routinely rubber-stamps all mergers between high fare flag carriers while prohibiting a merger between Ryanair and Aer Lingus, which guaranteed lower airfares and a better deal for Europe’s consumers.
As Europe’s citizens have long suspected, the EU Commission cannot be trusted while it continues to featherbed the travel arrangements of its bureaucrats at the expense of Europe’s taxpayers. The Commission must now end this ban on low fares airlines and, given the Commission’s failure to balance its own budget for many years, we suggest a good starting point would be a policy which compels the Commission’s employees and its travel agency to book and travel on every route where a low fares airline option exists. This is what the majority of Europe’s consumers now do, and what the Commission’s own employees should do when travelling at the taxpayers’ expense.”