19 Dec 2012


                        TOLL EVASION     CREW EXPLOITATION 



“Where an aircraft has multiple certified maximum take-off weights, the maximum one shall be used,” for levying fees. This explicit provision is the key point of the official charges document published by the German Air Navigation Services and applicable for all operators conducting flights to the country’s international airports.
In order to define those fees and make them transparent, all operators arriving or departing at EU airports respectively crossing European skies have to submit the weight data of their fleet to the involved national authorities. These figures are part of the registration process mandated by the authorities of the operator’s country of registration, the Irish Aviation Authority in case of Ryanair (code: FR). However, no foreign actor or administration is entitled to claim or read the specifics of the national registers. They remain shelved, more or less. Since they don’t obtain specifics from any foreign civil aviation administration, both Eurocontrol and other national aviation agencies have to rely on the data delivered by the operators.  
Having made these preliminary remarks Ryanair’s practices come into the picture, because they deserve a closer look.
According to Eurocontrol and Germany’s Federal Air Traffic Controlling Office the Boeing 737-800s of the Dublin-based carrier’s uniform fleet are registered with a maximum take-off mass (MTOM) of 67 tons each aircraft, or exactly 66,990 kg as declared by the low cost carrier. That’s in line with statistics documented in the current yearbook of Swiss publication JP Airline Fleet International, the self-proclaimed ‘Bible of Civil Aviation.’ These 67 tons submitted by Ryanair are the reference figure for levying departure fees together with route charges by Eurocontrol.
However, some of the traffic watchers must have become suspicious when comparing the Irish discounter’s low MTOM weights with data delivered by other carriers having the same Boeing variant in their fleet. This resulted in numerous on-the-spot checks of Ryanair flights to and from Germany, particularly at Ryanair’s hub Frankfurt-Hahn. The outcome of these controls seems to have corroborated the aviation authority’s concerns over the doubtful weight declaration submitted by the Irish airline. “At all inspections the declared MTOM of 67 tons had clearly been exceeded, occasionally by up to eight tons,” emphasizes a source close to the case. For Ryanair a bitter and probably costly resume since the findings clearly contradict the weights submitted by the no-frills airline to the authorities. 
This is what Ryanair has to say: 
"Ryanair has a policy of not commenting on rumour or speculation. Ryanair’s 737 aircraft operate 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.
We do not comment on specific flights but we are happy to address any issues or queries raised by EuroControl directly with them and we will continue to do so."
Stephen McNamara
Head of Communications
Not to be misunderstood, by doing so, the high-flying low cost carrier does not violate any safety regulations. Fact is that the Irish Aviation Authority has firmly approved – among other take-off masses – the above mentioned 75 MTOM, together with a maximum landing mass of 65,317 kg (65.3 t). This is confirmed by Ireland’s IAA in documents obtained by CargoForwarder. However, by submitting the lowest possible MTOM figure instead of assigning the maximum take-off mass as documented by the Irish authorities and demanded by aviation administrations of other countries for levying their service charges, Ryanair frequently evades fees and route charges, claim internal Eurocontrol sources. So dodging costs at any circumstances seems to be the name of the game, critics suspect.
And indeed, the savings resulting from this practice seem to run into millions of euros. This might be one factor why the carrier keeps on announcing “unbeatable low prices” at all occasions, comments a Swiss aviation analyst.
As to the figures: according to calculations performed by CargoForwarder together with aviation experts, Ryanair saves up to 17 euros payable to Germany’s Air Traffic Control at each departure from one of the country’s international airports. Doesn’t sound impressive, but by operating 50 flights per day in average from Germany this leads to savings of 850 euros. Thus, expenditures of 310,000 euros annually are avoided or almost 370,000 euros when adding 19 percent VAT to the sum. Not to forget: this accounts only for the carrier’s operations in Germany. If counting all 1,500 daily flights offered by Ryanair throughout Europe the figures grow into other dimensions.  
Secondly, Ryanair’s questionable weight policy also reduces Eurocontrol’s fee income substantially. This can be illustrated by a typical flight from Bremen (BRE) in northern Germany to Milan-Bergamo (BGY) in Italy via Switzerland. The route charges based on Ryanair’s 67 t MTOW-principles and payable to Eurocontrol is 80 euros less in comparison to the mandated 75 MTOM weight category for leveraging fees. Taking into account that lots of flights take over a greater distance than the 1,500 km separating Bremen and Milan, it can be assumed that Ryanair saves more than the aforementioned 80 euros on Eurocontrol fees due to the lowest but supposedly incorrect weight category given to the authorities.
The carrier’s 1,500 daily flights multiplied by 30 days and 12 months brings it to 540,000 annual flights or savings of 43.2 million euros on Eurocontrol fees. Together with the charges withheld from more than 30 national European national air traffic control organizations (ATC) it might well add up to 50 million euros in 2012.
Should the severe allegations of toll evasion be further substantiated and the authorities demand the refunding of their lost revenues Ryanair’s flight into 2013 might become quite turbulent.
DFS considers taking legal Action
According to Axel Raab, Head of Communications at German Air Navigation Services – Deutsche Flugsicherung (DFS), the MTOM of the Boeing 737-800 fleet declared by Ryanair to the German aviation authorities is 66,990 kg. Raab confirmed when asked by CargoForwarder that all fees the Irish carrier has been charged for by the DFS in the past were calculated and based on this weight.
He announced an immediate change in his administration’s reimbursement policy by basing the fees payable by Ryanair on the MTOM of 75 tons.
Raab went on saying that internal lawyers are currently studying the case. “If the outcome will be that Ryanair evaded taxes we will go to court,” the manager emphasized. 
John said,
Eight former Ryanair employees now work at the (IAA) Irish Aviation Authority....Corruption...................
Report below from the Daily Mail.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

when are the authorities going to act