The Consumer rights organization, Facua-Consumidores en Acción, has accused the Irish airline Ryanair of blackmail following revelations that the Chairman of Ryanair sent a letter to Miguel Sebastián, the Minister of Tourism and Commerce, in January threatening to halt his plans for expansion if the ‘disproportionate and discriminatory’ fines given to his company were not reviewed. He also asked for an urgent meeting to discuss the issue.
Between 2009 and 2010 Ryanair has committed 65 infractions (none of them involve security). Facua believes that Ryanair is guilty of blackmail because it has threatened to reduce its operations in Spain with the consequent affect this would have on flights, routes and jobs if the fines placed against the company are not withdrawn. In a statement issued by Facua it says that this blackmail is a direct result of the lack of enthusiasm that the government and regional authorities have when it comes to dealing with the ‘continuous fraudulent actions’ of Ryanair which have resulted in more than a million euros in fines for the company.
According to Facua Ryanair has been making millions of euros in profit using fraudulent practices without the authorities putting a stop to it and so it is not at all surprised that Ryanair is allowed to threaten to withdraw its operations in a country if the fines are not withdrawn. Facua says that it regrets the timid response of the authorities and lack of control against the serious irregularities committed by Ryanair.
Around 34% of those affected by what Facua calls the ‘fraudulent practices of Ryanair’ have asked this organization for help and advice in making a claim against the Irish airline. Facua has also received complaints against other airlines – Vueling (24%) and Iberia (19%).
Facua says that Ryanair has threatened to take it to court for encouraging consumers to make complaints against the airline.
The most recent accusation made by Facua against Ryanair was in April this year for placing a commission on each ticket issued in exchange for teh airline fulfilling the obligation of providing alternative transport or refunds and offering assistance to its passengers in cases where flights are cancelled for causes out of its control.
In January this year a judge in Barcelona ruled that passengers did not have to carry out their check-in online and print out their own ticket in order to avoid being charged an extra 40 euros for this service in the airport. However, it is not clear whether this ruling against Ryanair is final and the case has been taken to the EU High Court of Justice.
Recently Ryanair has carried out a study on the possibility of its passengers travelling on foot with just benches to sit on during take off and landing.
Another controversial idea put forward by Michael O’Leary was for the Irish airline to get rid of its co-pilots because according to O’Leary ‘they are unnecessary given that nowadays computers carry out most of the work’.