Belgian airlines take Ryanair to court for unfair competition

Summary

As the Belgian Air Transport Association filed suit against Ryanair for unfair competition, the Irish low-cost airline has registered a complaint with the EU about the state aid provided to its competitors

Ryanair files complaint with EU

The Belgian Air Transport Association (Bata) has filed a complaint with the commercial tribunal of Brussels against Ryanair, alleging unfair competition. Bata represents Brussels Airlines (BA), Jetairfly and Thomas Cook Belgium.

Ryanair’s Belgian hub is Charleroi Airport, but since February, the low-cost Irish airline has been active at Brussels Airport. Its staff are subject to the more advantageous Irish system for tax and social security. This allows Ryanair to save money on personnel costs compared to its main Belgian competitors.

The Irish airline also escapes the indexation of salaries applicable in Belgium, as well as avoiding the costly payments involved when laying off staff.

“Our position is very simple,” said Bata lawyer Filip Tilleman. “When one works in Belgium, and when one employs people in Belgium, one ought to be bound by Belgian labour laws. It’s not because you have your headquarters in another country that you’re above the law.”

The Ryanair staff concerned are not only working in Belgium, they are based here permanently, and some have Belgian nationality. They should not, therefore, be covered by the system of another country, Tilleman argues.

Ryanair, in turn, has filed a complaint with the EU, alleging that state aid paid by the federal government to support national airlines, particularly BA – its biggest competitor – is illegal.

In related news, BA transported more than 585,450 passengers in April, making it the best April ever for the airline. The results were attributed to a slight economic recovery, a late Easter this year and an increase in the destinations on offer.

BA’s passenger numbers for European destinations increased by 10.6%, with the US and Africa up by more than 20%. Seat occupancy was up by 4.5 points to 77% of capacity. Brussels Airport also enjoyed a record month, with 980,140 passengers boarding flights, an increase of 16.6% on the same period last year.

Photo courtesy Curren/Wikimedia Commons