State ‘unaware’ of Ryanair’s base

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Norwegian authorities are promising an inspection of working conditions for Ryanair cabin crews based at the Rygge airport outside Moss, claiming they weren’t aware Ryanair had a base at the airport it uses for flights to the Oslo area. The base opened in March 2010, amidst much media coverage, and has been advertised on Ryanair’s own website.

The Rygge airport at Moss is served almost entirely by Ryanair, which has come under severe criticism by labour organizations and politicians this week. Now state authorities are vowing a full review of Ryanair's operations in Norway. PHOTO: Moss Lufthavn Rygge

The Rygge airport at Moss is served almost entirely by Ryanair, which has come under severe criticism by labour organizations and politicians this week. Now state authorities are vowing a full review of Ryanair’s operations in Norway. PHOTO: Moss Lufthavn Rygge

Ryanair has run into more turbulence in Norway over what labour organizations call “slave contracts” for its employees and their failure to pay taxes in Norway. Two flight attendants are suing the airline over the terms of their recent dismissal, and as more details of their Ryanair contracts come to light, state bureaucrats and politicians are reacting to the complaints of unfair labour practices and the lack of taxation.

Norway’s Civil Aviation Authority (Luftfartstilsynet) has had responsibility for monitoring the operations of foreign airlines with bases in Norway since September of last year. Now they’re promising to carry out a full review of working conditions for Ryanair cabin crews based at Rygge after receiving repeated complaints. The promised inspection also comes after Transport Minister Marit Arnstad called an emergency meeting for Friday, to follow up on the complaints.

“As long as the company has a base with aircraft stationed in Norway and the employees on board the aircraft reside in Norway longer than just the required resting periods (between flights), they are covered by Norwegian labour law,” Arnstad told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) on Thursday. “We expect the (Civil Aviation Authority) to conduct the necessary review to ensure compliance with (Norwegian law).”

The review “isn’t coming a day too early,” responded Vegard Einan of the labour organization Parat, which is backing the lawsuits filed against Ryanair by the two dismissed flight attendants. Einan said he’d been trying to get the Civil Aviation Authority to monitor Ryanair for the past three years.

Tor Iversen of the authority confirmed it has never reviewed Ryanair’s operations before, claiming it was the responsibility of the Labour Ministry until last fall and that airport officials had told them Ryanair did not have a base at Rygge, officially known as Moss Lufthavn Rygge and under mostly private ownership.

Airport officials told DN that must have been “a misunderstanding.” The website for the airport, owned by Thon Holding, Orkla Eiendom, Østfold Energi and Østfold County, makes note of Ryanair’s base as does Ryanair itself. The airport currently is served almost entirely by Ryanair flights and clearly would like to see Ryanair expand at Rygge. Rival Norwegian Air pulled out last year.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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