As of 1st April 2014, the European Commission has abandoned its policy to only use International Air Transport Association (IATA) airlines for professional missions and its officials are now obliged to fly low cost airlines. The Commission staff and the European civil aviation employees condemn this approach. They urge the Commission to revise its position and revert to a responsible and ethically defendable policy in this matter.
Commissions’ decision to oblige its officials to use airlines with the lowest fares is not only an effort to save taxpayers’ money, but unfortunately it also gives an important political signal by endorsing the operating model of those airlines. Both Ryanair and Easyjet, for instance, have been accused several times of non-respect of passenger rights as stipulated by Regulation (EC) 261/2004. For example, Easyjet has been condemned to several fines because it did not accept passengers with special needs. Ryanair on the other hand has recently lost several courtcases raised by its ex-workers for non-respect of labour legislation and unfair dismissal.
François Ballestero, European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) Political Secretary for Civil Aviation and Tourism, commented: “This decision indicates that the Commission does not care about the enforcement of its own legislation. It gives a clear sign to those ‘cowboys’ that they can carry on their social dumping practices, now even sponsored by EU money. This is not acceptable for the ETF and we will continue to fight against it.”
Georges Tsolos, Vice-President of Union Syndicale, added: “It is unaceptable that the Commission grants an ‘official supplier’ status to an airline that does not treat its passengers and staff properly, this is giving a negative sign to the whole society.”
Therefore, the ETF and Union Syndicale have decided to jointly approach the Commission with a proposal to change its staff travel policy. Furthermore, the ETF will launch a list of FAIRlines that follow principles of decent work and respect workers’ rights.