Some people – such as Google chief executive Eric Schmidt – call this sort of stuff capitalism. Others, such as British Labour MP Margaret Hodge, call it outrageous. Ernst Young, being an accountancy service, calls it administrative expenses.
Ryanair denies breach of aircraft weights
We all know what happens if you exceed your cabin baggage allowance on a Ryanair flight: credit card, at least €60 and thank you very much for flying with Europe’s favourite airline.
What happens though if Ryanair’s aircraft go over their declared weight? German airport spot-checks reportedly found Ryanair aircraft weighed up to eight tonnes beyond their declared 67 tonnes.
According to checks by German airports in Lübeck and Hahn, reported yesterday in Die Welt daily, the aircraft weights were often closer to 75 tonnes.
If confirmed this would increase the airline’s levy by €17 on each German flight. With a reported daily frequency of 50 flights, that works out at €850 a day, or €370,000 annually, in Germany alone.
Trade website Cargoforwarder quoted unnamed airline experts who said that based on Ryanair’s 1,500 daily flights in Europe, the total annual fee saving could be close to €50 million.
At the heart of this weighty issue is the 66.990 tonnes claimed by Boeing as the weight of the 737-800 planes it built for Ryanair. Deviations in certified weights are possible with aircraft, however, and the highest registered weight for any craft – in this case 74.990 tonnes – is the one used for levying fees.
A spokesman for Germany’s DFS aviation authority said its legal experts were examining the case and would intervene if it found indications of permanent fee evasion by the Irish airline.
Ryanair issued a statement yesterday saying there was “no truth to this story”.
“Ryanair’s 737 aircraft operate at different certified weights in full compliance with Boeing’s flex-weight programme, as certified and approved by the Irish Aviation Authority [IAA] and we will continue to do so,” it said. “Ryanair is not paying back fees for alleged ‘higher allowances’. These claims are simply untrue.”
The IAA declined to comment, saying it was between Ryanair and Eurocontrol, the European air safety authority. Eurocontrol said it became aware “some time ago that there is an issue with Ryanair’s declarations” and was “actively attempting to address the issue with Ryanair”.
The body relies on weight declarations of carriers, but is reviewing this system. It added that the Ryanair review “was purely a financial issue and that there are no safety implications”.