A former flight attendant for Ryanair won a key victory Friday when Norway’s Supreme Court ruled that her lawsuit against the airline for improper dismissal shall be carried out in a Norwegian court. Ryanair had argued that the case should be tried in Ireland, where its aircraft are registered.
It still hasn’t been settled, however, whether Norwegian law or Irish law applies to the case of flight attendant Alessandra Cocca, whose employment in Ryanair has been equated to modern-day “slave labour.” Ryanair officials claim Irish labour law must prevail, since she worked on board an Irish-registered aircraft. Norwegian labour organization Parat, which has supported Cocca’s lawsuit against Ryanair, claims that when the Supreme Court has rejected Ryanair’s appeal and the case is to be heard in a Norwegian court, then it must be conducted in accordance with Norwegian law.
Cocca’s case has sparked widespread interest in Europe because it legally challenges Ryanair’s controversial employment practices. Parat notes that if Norwegian law is applied, Ryanair will likely be found to have broken almost all labour laws in the country regarding rights to pension and social welfare benefits, paid holiday, paid sick leave and the airline’s obligation to pay employer taxes in Norway. A Norwegian court’s ruling can have ramifications for Ryanair’s operations all over Europe.
If Ryanair loses, however, it will probably also mean an end to the ultra low airfares Ryanair offers, because the airline’s costs of doing business would rise considerably. The next legal round will take place in a local court in Moss, south of Oslo and home to one of the outlying airports Ryanair uses in Norway.