Ryanair has accused the UK’s air traffic control (ATC) provider Nats of discriminating against it and other London Stansted airlines.
The budget carrier claimed 52% of all ATC delays in the London area “caused by Nats” during the first three months of the year affected flights at Stansted, which is its largest base.
This is compared with zero at Heathrow and 10% at Gatwick.
A failure of Nats to “fairly supply” staffing and airspace resources at Stansted has “wreaked havoc” this summer, according to Ryanair
Ryanair has submitted a formal complaint to the European Commission and the CAA over the issue.
Nats is owned by a public private partnership including the Government (49%) and a group of UK airlines (42%) such as British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.
Ryanair chief operating officer Peter Bellew said the airline and airport are “clearly being discriminated against”, describing the delay figures as “unjustifiable”.
He went on: “The situation is particularly bad at weekends where Nats are hiding behind adverse weather and euphemisms such as ‘capacity restrictions’ when the truth is they are not rostering enough ATC staff to cater for the number of flights that are scheduled to operate.
“Urgent action must now be taken by the UK Department for Transport and the EU Commission, otherwise thousands more flights and millions of passengers at Stansted will continue to suffer disproportionate delays while Nats protects its shareholder airlines’ services in Heathrow and Gatwick.”
Nats insisted that it “does not discriminate between airlines or airports” and declared that Ryanair’s performance this summer “cannot be blamed on UK air traffic control”.
It said in a statement that the figures quoted by Ryanair coincide with the introduction of new technology that affected flight capacity at Stansted and other airports such as London Luton over a seven-month period.