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Sabena Files Lawsuit Against Ryanair  
User currently offlineApuneger From Belgium, joined Sep 2000, 3036 posts, RR: 10
Posted (15 years 3 weeks 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 3386 times:

Sabena has filed a lawsuit today, against the low cost carrier Ryanair.

A few months ago, Ryanair chose Charleroi Airport (aka Brussels South Airport) as its 1st European continent hub.

Today, Sabena accuses Ryanair of illegal and wrong facts in their commercial campaigns. I have, so far, not seen an y of Ryanair's campaign, but it seems, according to Sabena, that they are accusing Sabena of charging way too high prices, and they claim that Sabena is almost stealing their passengers' money.

If this turns out to be true, then I think it's a rather aggressive way of advertising by Ryanair, and I think this is wrong, they have crossed the line. What's your opinion? Have you ever seen similar advertising?


Ivan Coninx - Brussels Aviation Photography
25 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
User currently offlineDCA-ROCguy From United States of America, joined Apr 2000, 4661 posts, RR: 31
Reply 1, posted (15 years 3 weeks 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 3310 times:

Large high-cost airlines, whether in the USA or Europe, will generally do anything to destroy low-fare competition. Look at American Airlines' and North Texas politicians "Wright Amendment" to curtail Southwest Airlines' growth at Dallas Love Field. Wouldn't want WN eating into any more of those fat AA profit margins or "yields' at DFW International Airport than AA or DFW-principal City of Fort Worth can help.

Some questions to ask:

What is European Union or Belgium law regarding advertising claims? Is there anything like a USA First Amendment protecting freedom of speech? What is the "line" that Ryanair has allegedly crossed?

Exactly what did Ryanair say in their ads? IT's quite reasonable for a low-fare airline to say that major airline-fares might seem like robbery in comparison to theirs. If Sabena's management or unions don't like that, too bad.

There are few more desperate, or dangerous, entities than a high-cost service provider threatened by well-managed, high-quality, lower-cost competition. It would be wise to examine Sabena's claims very carefully before accepting any accusations of libel by Ryanair.


Need a new airline paint scheme? Better call Saul! (Bass that is)
User currently offlineA320FO From Austria, joined Oct 2000, 211 posts, RR: 1
Reply 2, posted (15 years 3 weeks 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 3305 times:

I can recall a similar lawsuit filed by (I believe) LH in Germany against Ryanair.
The fight was over the fact that Ryanair advertised their flight destinations solely as Hamburg and Frankfurt, but the true destinations are Luebeck and Hahn, respectively. Both these airports are more than an hours drive from their advertised cities. To my knowledge, this lawsuit was won by LH and Ryanair had to advertise with the names of the airports they fly to, as well.

Living in a competetive world, everyone will try to go as far as possible to secure business.....


User currently offlineGlider From Belgium, joined Feb 2001, 297 posts, RR: 1
Reply 3, posted (15 years 3 weeks 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 3294 times:

I have seen some advertisement of Ryanair in 'Het Nieuwsblad', and indeed Ryanair accuses Sabena with their high prices. But it's not that bad; sometimes they also compare their prices with Sabena's, but who doesn't?

User currently offlineDutchjet From Netherlands, joined Oct 2000, 7864 posts, RR: 56
Reply 4, posted (15 years 3 weeks 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 3288 times:

Very interesting and this could get very ugly; SN has enough problems at the moment and getting into a war with RyanAir is the last thing that they need. Making sure that their marriage to Swissair will continue should be their top (and only) priority.

RyanAir did so much research in selecting its European hub, and Charleroi (now known as Brussels South) worked very hard to get RyanAir. SN should not now be surprised that Ryanair will try to attract pax to this hub by advestising their lower fares (and some fares on RyanAir are really cheap). I have not yet seen the ads, will look in the paper, but aggressive and flamboyant ads are not illegal as long as they are true.

SN's fares out of BRU are not any more expensive or cheaper on European routes than any other large non-discount airline, their flights to the US are usually available at very good fares and flying to Africa with SN costs lots of money. SN has improved its service in recent years and should focus on that; RyanAir, with its low fares, will attract mainly people who otherwise would not have considered flying.

User currently offlineGOT From Sweden, joined Dec 2000, 1912 posts, RR: 1
Reply 5, posted (15 years 3 weeks 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 3281 times:

SN will do almost anything to get rid of the low.cost competition. No major airline wants competition and absolutely not operating from the same hub area. But RyanAir will go on, whatever SN does.


Just like birdwatching - without having to be so damned quiet!
User currently offlineSndp From Belgium, joined Feb 2000, 553 posts, RR: 2
Reply 6, posted (15 years 3 weeks 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 3273 times:

Has to go fast, sorry for the mistakes in typing.

The problem with the adds is that the impression one gets from the figures in there, is wrong. As all low cost airlines do, they advertise their prices for one way. Then they compare that price with a one way price at Sabena. This means however the price for a full fare economy ticket, as a one way ticket at a traditional carrier is ar more expensive then the lowest return economy class ticket. So, in that way the price difference is huge. I give an example.
If you would like to travel from Brussel (either Zaventem (SN base) ro Charleroi (Ryanair)) to Pisa you pay

2500 BEF one way at Ryanair and around 15000-20000 BEF one way at Sabena.
If you would fly return you pay 5000 BEF) (2 times 2500) at Ryanair and around 7000 BEF at Sabena.
(Take care, these are not real prices, it is just an example). The difference is less huge, certainly if you consider the service you receive from SAbena and the fact that they fly to bog airports, nearer to the city. It is for this reason that Sabena has filed a law suit against Ryanair.

User currently offlineApuneger From Belgium, joined Sep 2000, 3036 posts, RR: 10
Reply 7, posted (15 years 3 weeks 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 3263 times:

Maybe Sabena should play the same tactics, and start some sort of campaign against low cost carriers, such as Ryanair and of course Virgin Express?

Of course, both Ryanair and Virgin are fine companies to me (I even enjoyd my flight with Virgin Express last year to Kos, no complaints at all), but I still feel more afilliated with our Belgian national carrier, than some low cost carrier. I think it would be a shame that Sabena would even get in deeper trouble because of some low cost carriers, don't you think?


Ivan Coninx - Brussels Aviation Photography
User currently offlineSwake From Belgium, joined Jan 2001, 231 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (15 years 3 weeks 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 3251 times:

Dutchjet has a good point in saying that low cost carriers attract a different clientele. Main carriers tend to focus on the high yield markets, which is exactly what SN has to do here.
Perhaps SN could focus on the attractivity of its weekend fares (for leisure travel) since FR (TV too) are way pricier then.

User currently offlineApuneger From Belgium, joined Sep 2000, 3036 posts, RR: 10
Reply 9, posted (15 years 3 weeks 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 3247 times:

I'm curious how this story will end...


Ivan Coninx - Brussels Aviation Photography
User currently offlineMyself From Belgium, joined Feb 2001, 207 posts, RR: 1
Reply 10, posted (15 years 3 weeks 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 3241 times:

Now Ryanair has entered the arena, it's becoming quite hard to still consider VEX as a true low-cost airline.

Ryanair is offering one-way flights to VCE for 2.600 BEF + 550 airport tax = 3150 BEF. This makes a two-way trip +/- 6.000 BEF (if you're lucky to get the first x seats, because afterwards prices will go up). And now : the real destination is not VCE, but Treviso airport, +/- 35km further away from the city of Venice itself. So if you add the extra train, taxi or bus fare, you might actually end up paying more when flying Ryanair !

If you also have a closer look at their schedules, you will notice that they operate with 25' turnaround times in their destinations, which will become more and more affected by slots with the upcoming summer season (Treviso and Carcassonne). As also their scheduled Blocktimes look a bit sharp, I'm very curious to see their punctuality, especially after an entire day of tight aircraft scheduling.

And about their publicity campaign : they should exercise care not to become too agressive or they might also start scaring the passengers...

Best regards

User currently offlineILOVEA340 From United States of America, joined Oct 1999, 2100 posts, RR: 4
Reply 11, posted (15 years 3 weeks 6 days 12 hours ago) and read 3229 times:

while I have high respects for sabena I think that ryanair does have the right to advertise however they want. If that is how they do it then thats it@!

User currently offlineSabenapilot From Belgium, joined Feb 2000, 2748 posts, RR: 45
Reply 12, posted (15 years 2 weeks 4 days 13 hours ago) and read 3205 times:

OK, this kind of post makes me very angry, so I apologize in advance  Big grin

What is the social value of a company like Ryanair anyway?

Ryanair flies from Charleroi airport (they call it Brussels South, but that's one of their dirty tricks to fool the pax) using a handfull of planes. There, they employ around 50 people to handle luggage, check-in etc.
In all less then 100 people have found a badly paid and much exploited job in this cowboy company situated well south of Brussels (about 1.5 hrs away by car)
yet this very same company is now trying to finish off the Belgian national carrier Sabena, employing over 8,500 people, by targeting our most profitable routes!

I feel it is a disgrace to our country that these goldiggers are allowed to yeopardise the wellbeing of an airline like Sabena, purely because they abuse the right on equal chances for all.

These companies do not bring any good to us on the longe term, since they are only interested in quick gain.
They are now trying to push Sabena out of the market on some selected (and very profitable) routes, so the result will be that if they prove to be succesfull then Sabena wil be stuck with the bad routes only. Of course this is an impossible situation for a company already in crisis, so Sabena might even have to stop flying because of this! What will be the net result then?
A lot of destinations will not be reachable from Brussels anymore (since Ryanair will not fly low profit routes);
The Belgian state will lose millions of euros (since they'll no longer have the taxes on the income of the people working at Sabena, no more expensive transit pax in Brussels, no more high landing fees at Brussels, etc.)
and on top of that 8,500 people will be unemployed!
OK, so maybe Rayanair might take some of us on, but at what salary? Certainly not for what I'm paid now...

Finally, does the Belgian state (mayority shareholder in Sabena) has to allow a privately owned company to distroy its own company? Which private investor would be so masochistic?

User currently offlineGolfhaus From United States of America, joined Aug 2000, 132 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (15 years 2 weeks 4 days 12 hours ago) and read 3183 times:

too bad, so sad...

User currently offlineA330 From Belgium, joined May 1999, 674 posts, RR: 7
Reply 14, posted (15 years 2 weeks 4 days 12 hours ago) and read 3179 times:

If people only knew about the ''maintenance'' of Ryanair, a lot of them would never set a foot on their planes. Maintenance is THE thing to safe cash on, for it is the biggest expence of an airline. Ryanair maintains to the minimums allowed, and you should know that the Irish Aviation Authority is one of the less strict of the JAA countries.
No businessman will travel to Charleroi to catch a plane, the taxiride to Brussels alone costs more than the difference in price if he flies with Sabena to Brussels National, and the tourist market in Belgium is way too small and exist mainly of tour operators who would never use Ryanair anyway...

User currently offlineDonder10 From Canada, joined Oct 2001, 6660 posts, RR: 20
Reply 15, posted (15 years 2 weeks 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 3176 times:

We live in a Capitalist society...Ryanair are trying to make a profit and so are Sabena.See it from Ryanair's point of view!!!Sabena are the ones being aggresive starting a law suit!Alex

User currently offlineLJ From Netherlands, joined Nov 1999, 4809 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (15 years 2 weeks 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 3155 times:

Sabenapilot, this is the real world. I assume you want to go back to the days where there isn't an "open skies" policy and where I (and other travellers) have to pay very high fares to airlines which can't controll costs.

Moreover, you argument about Ryanair destoying SN is very poor. A couple of years ago easyJet (the other low budget airline) introduced low budget services from AMS to London (one of the most profitable intra-European citypair) and what happened with KLM?? They still make money. If SN can't compete with Ryanir they must wonder what's the problem with SN and why they can't compete (probably the cost basis).

Finally, A330 what's your point? They (low budget airlines) maintane their aircraft according to the guidelines (do you really think the mainline airline do any better?). Moreover, unlike other mainline airline they (low budget operators) have more to gain with well maintened aircraft as they don't have any spare aircraft (which costs the money). Finally, if you look at the cost basis it's the costs for employees which is the highest for an airline.


User currently offlineApuneger From Belgium, joined Sep 2000, 3036 posts, RR: 10
Reply 17, posted (15 years 2 weeks 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 3150 times:

I certainly wouldn't fly Ryanair.

I'd rather pay a couple of thousands Belgian francs more, than having to take a ride to Charleroi instead of EBBR, and then have to see that the airport of destination is actually far away from the place I have to be.

I think some competition is not bad, but I'm just concerned with the fact that this sort of competition might eventually destroy the whole market. Eventually, airline companies will have to operate at or only slightly above break-even point, just because of some other carrier tries to gain some quick revenue.

Sabena is doing pretty bad these days, they are doing a lot of efforts trying to clean up the mess, and now some other company tries to make it even worse! That's no healthy competition, that's just waiting to see some great airliner doing bad things, and then stabbing it in the back, man!

I sure would hate to see such a great carrier, and one of the oldest in the airline industry, being destroyed by some low-cost carrier Ryanair!

I have spoken!


Ivan Coninx - Brussels Aviation Photography
User currently offlineSabenapilot From Belgium, joined Feb 2000, 2748 posts, RR: 45
Reply 18, posted (15 years 2 weeks 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 3155 times:

To LJ,

you wrote:
if you look at the cost basis it's the costs for employees which is the highest for an airline.

First of all, this is not true: you should do some study before you post a mail: it is the fuel, not the employees which are the highest cost for an airline.

Secondly, what is your point here?
Should we all go and work twice as much to earn only half as much as we do now? Just because YOU might be able to book a slightly cheeper flight?

Don't forget all these economical liberalisations are coming back to you just like a boomerang.
If in one sector of industry (e.g. aviation) the system of social destruction and expoitation can become routine (purely because nobody protested as most of us benifit from lower ticket prizes), then it is only a matter of time before the same system will find its way to other if not all sectors of industry (maybe even the one you're working in).
At that moment you will start feeling for yourself that this kind of competition doesn't turn out to be a good thing for the employees nor for the consumers (which are most of the time an employee at another firm also fighting a similar struggle).

At the end of this long story, the net result will be that maybe the ticket prizes will have dropped by 25%, but will anybody have benefitted from this? No, since we will all be working for a salary of around 25 % less then now, so in fact the relative cost of a "low fair" ticket will be exactly the same as now. The only difference will be that around half of us (and that might also include you) will be out of work.

The only ones who really benefit from this canibalistic race are the major shareholders of companies like EasyJet, Virgin Express, Ryanair, etc, but do you really think they still need the extra money???

If this is your idea of a bright future in a realistic capitalistic society, then I hope the revolution comes quite soon....

User currently offlineBoeing in pdx From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 19, posted (15 years 2 weeks 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 3144 times:

So just because a airline is small and offers cheap prices they can't compete! that is not fair. just because Sebena is old does not mean they should be void from competion.

User currently offlineApuneger From Belgium, joined Sep 2000, 3036 posts, RR: 10
Reply 20, posted (15 years 2 weeks 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 3142 times:

Boeing in pdx:

You're right, but I have the idea that all this competition is like killing the attitude and spirit in the aviation industry. All airline companies are obliged to save every $ they can. The only victims are the passengers, trust me!

Where is this all going to stop?

Just think about it next time you get poor inflight catering!


Ivan Coninx - Brussels Aviation Photography
User currently offlineDonder10 From Canada, joined Oct 2001, 6660 posts, RR: 20
Reply 21, posted (15 years 2 weeks 4 days ago) and read 3135 times:

Sabenapilot: what are Sabena's profits like?Thanks,Alex

User currently offlineCapt.Picard From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 22, posted (15 years 2 weeks 4 days ago) and read 3133 times:

I can't beleive some of you are blaming FR for SN's problems!

Sorry, SN's situation is NOT FR's problem; they don't take other airlines' profits (or lack thereof) into consideration when opening up new routes.

It's called competition.  Insane

By the way, Treviso is a 25 minute bus-ride from Venice bus station-the bus is comfortable, air-conditioned and only costs 3 pounds one-way.

If I can fly to Venice for 39 pounds return, I will! Why should I pay 200 pounds or more with BA?!

Some of you need to "wake up"; a lot of you have made some good points though (IMO!)-Donder10, LJ.

Sabenapilot, if you really do fly for Sabena as a pilot, you are obviously very biased!


User currently offlineLJ From Netherlands, joined Nov 1999, 4809 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (15 years 2 weeks 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 3131 times:

Sabenapilot, I agree that fuel is the highes cost. However, fuel is a component which is almost equal for all airlines flying the same sector with the same aircraft (okay unless you hedge your fuel costs, but even then in the long run hedging doesn't generate any extra savings for a commodity which fluctuates very much up and down, easyJet doesn't hedge fuel for this reason).

My point is that airlines (or any other company in any industry) which aren't efficient (and I don't say that SN is inefficient as I don't know have the exact financial figures) shouldn't be protected from airlines which are efficient and therefore can provide a service to a customer against a better price/quality ratio than the inefficient airline.

I'm beginning to get very annoyed by those blaming low cost operators (by pointing to for example the assumed bad maintenance of these airlines) for destroying the airline business (or a particular airline). Low cost operators don't destroy the business, they enlarge it. If you look at The Netherlands and the UK you see growth in air travel which benefits all airlines, including the mainline airlines like KLM (judging by the increasing numbers of people working for KLM).

Anyway, your argument that liberalisation in aviation means people are getting less money is just incorrect. Liberalisation doesn't mean that you're paid less. It means that you (or the company) have to work efficient but since when does "efficient" mean the same as "paid less" or "work harder". Usually it means (or should mean) a better use of ALL rescources available (yes, this includes also human capital). Those working in front line positions shouldn't be so scared anway by liberalisation as they're needed (as they are very important for any company) and usually become more important (or should become more important). They are the face of the company and in my view should sometimes be rewarded more instead of less (I know that this isn't a popular view in the aviation industry). Those who work at headoffice or in managerial positions should maybe be scared if they don't deliver any value for the company. But is this bad? I think not.

In a liberalised world customers only want to pay for the extra or better perceived (please note I'm talking about a perception) service if they need it, otherwise they go to someone who offers less. That is the rule of the game and if you don't succeed in providing the correct perceived service against the correct price, you're gone. This may sounds very hard but this is reality in the world I'm working in for some time now (I work for a bank).

Something different, SN should be glad not getting easyJet as a competitor. They would have gone head to head with SN at Zaventem, something which would have been a bigger threat to SN than Ryanair which only uses thrid rate airports. But even then SN would probably prosper after the initial setback. Look at the war KLM had with easyJet and learn from it. easyJet became more popular through this war and even thanked KLM for starting law suits against easyJet (gained a lot of free publicity). KLM still exists and makes a profit and knows how to live with easyJet. Why doesn't SN go to KLM, Swissair or BA and learn how to fight the low cost airlines without losing business instead of the law suit (which won't prevent Ryanair from starting services from Charleroi anyway)

As for your the last point, allthough I admit that the founders of both Ryanair and easyJet still own a very large percentage in both easyJet and Ryanair, many retail investors (people like you and me) have bought these stocks and not just the wealthy.


User currently offlineApuneger From Belgium, joined Sep 2000, 3036 posts, RR: 10
Reply 24, posted (15 years 2 weeks 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 3119 times:

By the way,

For those of you that maven't seen it yet, here's the ad that started it all. If I am well-informed, Sabena mainly sues Rynair for the words they use in this very ad!

More information regarding this topic can be found on:



Ivan Coninx - Brussels Aviation Photography
User currently offlineLJ From Netherlands, joined Nov 1999, 4809 posts, RR: 0
Reply 25, posted (15 years 2 weeks 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 3119 times:

Seems like Ryanair is learning from easyJet rather than Sabena learning from KLM. Sabena has given Ryanair a very good opportunity to get free publicity. Even if they loose the case, they're certain that everybody in Belgium knows that Ryanair has arrived and just like easyJet in The Netherlands don't have to pay a lot for advertising (Stelios recently thanked KLM for filing a law suit and starting a war against easyJet).

If Sabena is smart they stop before Ryaniar drains out every possibility to get in the media (and believe me they like it) and uses that to gain awareness amoung the public. If SN doesn't stop the next fase is the case before court where Ryanair will show SN how efficient and creative their PR department is (judging by the fact that Ryanair has also learnt that from Stelios). Even if they loose, the winner still is Ryanair.

Seems like Sabena has a lot to learn.


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