Ryanair accuses UK air traffic controllers of ‘discrimination’

British air traffic controllers have hit back at claims by Ryanair that they are “discriminating against” London Stansted, the airline’s biggest base globally.

The low-cost carrier claimed on Monday that Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) figures “confirm” allegations that NATS, the Britain’s air traffic controller provider, gave Heathrow “special treatment”. Ryanair alleged that Gatwick “is also being preferred”.

NATS, however, dismissed Ryanair’s claims, insisting it “does not discriminate between airlines or airports”. A NATS spokeswoman said: “Ryanair performance this summer cannot be blamed on UK air traffic control.”

Stansted owner Manchester Airport Group (MAG), meanwhile, said it was “seeking answers from NATS on the root cause for these delays” and was “considering the need for further action, including the possibility of making a formal complaint to the CAA”.

Despite many airlines saying rolling strike action by ATCs is the driving force behind flights being grounded, Eurocontrol analysis concluded that staff capacity constraints had played a larger role. Some 45pc of delays were caused by ATC capacity constraints with 27pc as a result of industrial action.

Ryanair based its allegations on Oberon Report statistics published by the CAA. These show NATS attributable delays total 29,989 minutes in the first three months of 2018 across London City, Stansted, Luton, Gatwick and Heathrow.