EU transport boss should stop ‘talking nonsense’ on state aid and flight refunds says Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary as Brussels agrees to relax the rules allowing countries to bail out their national airlines.
Adina Valean, transport commissioner for the EU announced last week that Brussels was trying to help airlines with cashflow problems and that the measures to provide them with additional liquidity were only temporary.
In recent days a number of airlines have been ignoring EU law and have refused to give their customers a cash refund offering them a voucher instead. According to the law airlines have three options in the event of a cancellation to delay which include re-routing passengers or issuing full refunds. With most airline fleets completely grounded, the first option is not available.
O’Leary said in a statement, “She is completely wrong, firstly if you’re putting in place these rules so the Germans can subsidise only Lufthansa or the French can subsidise only Air France KLM it is discriminatory and it is in breach of state aid rules.
“The transport commissioner should be out doing something effective about refunds instead of talking nonsense about these breaches of state aid and competition rules.”
On Monday, a €7 billion state aid package for Air France-KLM by France was approved by the European Commission. Lufthansa is also in talks with the German government about a bailout package worth €10 billion, and the Spanish government have backed loans of up to €1 billion for Iberia and Vueling airlines.
The EU has loosened the rules about state aid for airlines as the Coronavirus lockdown has crippled the aviation sector.
As well as financial aid, O’Leary has claimed that France has given airport tax rebates to French airlines and not others that fly in France.
According to O’Leary, “The French government has rebated the airport tax but only for French Airlines and not for the non-French Airlines who also operate in France. […] It’s completely unfair and clearly in breach of competition and state aid rules.”
Ryanair has grounded most of it’s fleet because of the COVID-19 pandemic and has announced that it will be cutting up to 3.000 jobs and wil be requesting members of staff to take a pay cut of up to 20%.