Italy opens investigation into Ryanair's market reach
September 21, 2023
The Italian Competition Authority (AGCM) has opened an investigation into claims that Ryanair is engaging in an "abuse of its dominant position" in air transport to secure an advantage in related sectors, such as hotels and car rental services.
The AGCM says it has received "several reports" that Ryanair’s activities are harming travel agencies in particular. "In AGCM's preliminary view, Ryanair DAC is leveraging on its dominant position in several markets of [the] air transport sector in order to extend its market power [and] also into the offer of other tourist services (such as hotels and car rental)". The regulator says that there is evidence this is "harming travel agencies – both online and offline – as well as clients that buy from such agencies those other services". The authority continues that Ryanair "appears" to prevent travel agencies from buying air tickets directly through its websites, leaving them to purchase fares via its distribution platform at a higher price. AGCM believes this could have a negative impact on travel agencies and consumers, making it difficult to manage their bookings as well as charging them a higher price. Ryanair has been approached for comment. The move could signal a greater role for the AGCM in regulating the airline industry, with Reuters reporting on 20 September that the Italian government would entrust the regulator to manage pricing on domestic flights to islands such as Sicily and Sardinia. In early-August, Italy said it would regulate to cap prices on services to Sardinia, a move that was dismissed as “illegal” by the carrier that would reduce competition to the island and ultimately drive prices higher. It called on the European Commission to investigate. Ryanair later cut its capacity to the island by 8%.
Two United 737s impacted by engine parts issue
September 20, 2023
United Airlines' ongoing investigation into its potential use of suspected unapproved parts that came from UK supplier AOG Technics has so far resulted in two such discoveries. The US major has learned that two of its Boeing 737NG aircraft each has AOG Technics parts in one of the CFM56 engines installed on those aircraft. "As we investigated this matter, we learned that compressor stator vane seals from this supplier had been installed on a single engine on each of two aircraft, including one that was already undergoing routine maintenance," United says.
"We are replacing the affected engines on both aircraft before they are returned to service."
The Chicago-based carrier adds that it will continue to investigate as new information becomes available from its suppliers. Separately, US carrier Southwest Airlines, which operates an all-737 fleet, said that it became aware of the issue in early August."[We] took necessary steps to ensure we do not have AOG parts within our fleet," the Dallas-based carrier says. It adds: "Our suppliers conducted a review and identified one engine that contained two low-pressure turbine blades from the vendor and out of an abundance of caution, we made an immediate decision to promptly replace those parts on that single engine." Southwest has been unable to get confirmation that those two parts are among those that are under suspicion, adding: "We proactively removed [them] solely based on the vendor that supplied them". Virgin Australia has also disclosed that two of its 737-800s were supplied with suspected unapproved parts from AOG Technics. An investigation that was initiated after the carrier was notified of falsified certification documents identified a low-pressure turbine blade on one of the aircraft. As a result, the aircraft was removed from service and the part replaced.
Lufthansa to install EFW Airspace L Bins on A320s
September 20, 2023
Lufthansa will retrofit new overhead storage bins on some of its Airbus A320s manufactured by Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW). Starting early 2025, Lufthansa will have 38 A320s retrofitted with the Airspace L Bins, which EFW says create 60% more cabin luggage space versus traditional cabin systems. Installation of the larger bins can be completed in three to five days with minimal cabin modifications required. EFW chief executive Jordi Boto says that securing Lufthansa as the launch customer for the new bins is a major achievement for the company. "Becoming supplier of this cabin retrofit solution is showing that we have full capabilities to support customers with cabin interior systems,” he adds. In May, Airbus appointed EFW as the manufacturer of the Airspace L Bins for the A320 family.