Ryanair cleared of competition charges

  • 2005-04-06
  • From wire reports
RIGA - Latvia's Competition Council has ruled that the Ryanair did not violate fair competition rules when attempting to recruit pilots from airBaltic with the help of a newspaper ad.
The watchdog found that the advertisement, which appeared in February, did not contain information suggesting an attempt to bribe airBaltic pilots, so competition rules had not been violated.

However, the competition council has yet to determine whether the Irish discount airline violated the norms of advertising law.

In its advertisement, Ryanair announced a "pilot-luring day in Riga 's the native city of airBaltic national carrier" on Feb. 23. The airliner promised pilots an opportunity to work for the "number one low-costs airline in Europe" and number one flier in terms of profit.

The advertisement said the pilot recruitment day was specifically targeting airBaltic pilots but that other Latvian pilots were also welcome to attend the event.

AirBaltic filed a complaint with the Competition Council accusing Ryanair of violating the norms of fair competition. The Latvian carrier said in its complaint that the direct purpose of Ryanair advertisement was to lure highly-skilled employees of another company, which could be considered attempted bribery.

But the council said the Ryanair announcement about "pilot-luring day" could be considered an advertisement, so the watchdog would assess its compatibility with the norms of Latvia's advertisement law.

The council did not specify when a decision would be made.

Ryanair started flying to and from Riga on Oct. 31, 2004, and is planning to expand its routes this year.

Riga International Airport managed to attract the bargain airliner thanks to the Transport Ministry's decision to change the airport's price policy and offer considerable discounts to airlines that serve large numbers of passengers. This, in turn, has given rise to complaints from other major airlines that the price policy is discriminatory and favors airlines with large passenger turnover.