Ryanair has accused the UK’s air traffic control (ATC) service provider NATS of practicing discrimination against it and other carriers at London’s Stansted Airport.
According to Ryanair, NATS is giving ‘special treatment’ to Heathrow and preference to Gatwick airport.
Data from the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has revealed that Stansted Airport experienced 52% of all ATC delays in the London area between January and March this year due to NATS, while Heathrow did not face any delays and Gatwick suffered only 10% of the delays.
The data also showed that Luton and London City faced 30% and 8% delays respectively during the same period.
Ryanair COO Peter Bellew said: “Ryanair and Stansted are clearly being discriminated against by the UK airline owned ATC provider NATS. That Stansted has had 52% of all NATS delays in Q1 while Heathrow has 0% (and Gatwick just 10%) is unjustifiable.
“These disruptions are unfair and unacceptable, and we call on the UK Dept of Transport and the EU Commission to take urgent action to ensure that the UK ATC provider (NATS) is fully staffed and treats each London airport fairly.
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“NATS don’t have enough staff. Ryanair is today submitting a formal complaint to the European Commission and the UK CAA over this blatant discrimination against Stansted Airport and Ryanair.”
Due to ATC staffing shortages and management failures, Ryanair and other EU carriers have allegedly been compelled to cancel hundreds of flights.
The airline also expressed dissatisfaction over NATS’ refusal to explain the reason for 52% of all London ATC delays occurring at Stansted.
In 2016, Ryanair accused NATS of discriminating against Stansted flights. The airline, along with Stansted airport, called for a probe by the CAA.
CAA in its report did not find NATS guilty of giving undue preference or discriminating. NATS was, however, urged to take remedial steps to address the problem in staffing shortage.