Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary has advised the EU’s transport chief to do something about flight refunds rather than”talking crap” about state help.
O’Leary’s ire stems from Brussels relaxing the principles amid the lockdown and also permitting the likes of France to bail out airlines by which it has strong historical links.
It comes amid another controversy that has witnessed a range of airlines flout EU legislation and refuse to provide customers money refunds for flights canceled because of lockdown.
Adina Valean, the EU’s transport commissioner, advised Euronews last week which Brussels was hoping to help airlines using their liquidity issues and the steps were temporary.
O’Leary told Euronews: “She’s erroneous, firstly if you are putting in place these principles so that the Germans can subsidize just Lufthansa or so the French can subsidize just Air France KLM it’s discriminatory and it’s in breach of state aid rules.
“The transportation commissioner ought to be outside doing something powerful about refunds rather than talking crap about those breaches of state aid and competition rules”
Meanwhile, the Lufthansa is reported to be in talks with the German authorities about a bailout package worth around $10 billion.
The EU usually prohibits federal governments from providing financial aid to midsize companies since it distorts competition within the single market. But rules are loosened since the coronavirus lockdown threatens companies.
O’Leary asserts airlines do not require state aid and payroll service schemes across Europe — who visit authorities get involved and pay workers’ wages to stop companies firing them are enough to remain afloat.
“What is happening is that we have the French and the Germans making massive finance — billions of country help — which will let them low-cost sell contrary to the likes of Ryanair throughout the recovery period or let them take part in mergers and acquisitions and purchase all their poorer opponents when this is finished.
“Rather than authorities treating all airlines alike, they’re massively subsidizing the country aid junkies such as Lufthansa and Air France.
“Air Italia was renationalized. We do not want state help but we’d love to see substantial reductions in airport prices in Italy rather than those huge doses of state help crack cocaine”
Ryanair has grounded almost its whole fleet due to the COVID-19 outbreak and consequent lockdown.
Also, it plans to pay reductions of around 20 percent and unpaid leave for additional employees.
COVID-19 lockdowns have contributed to a nearly complete standstill in airline travel. Many airlines have grounded nearly all of their flights.
British Airways said that it plans to cut up to 12,000 jobs. United Airlines is expected to slash 30 percent of management jobs beginning in October. And Air Canada, the country’s biggest airline, announced a billion-dollar reduction on Monday.
“We are living through the darkest time in the history of aviation, substantially worse compared to 9/11, SARS and the 2008 fiscal catastrophe,” Air Canada CEO Calin Rovinescu stated in a conference call with analysts.
Euronews has requested Valean to respond to O’Leary’s remarks.