Redeker successfully defends air traffic control charges against Ryanair

Bonn, 29 September 2017. Darmstadt’s Administrative Court on 19 September 2017 dismissed a claim brought by Ryanair against the German air traffic control DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH (DFS). The DFS was represented by Redeker Sellner Dahs (Dr Tobias Masing, Dr Christian Eckart, LL.M. (Cornell)).

Ryanair challenged air traffic control charges regarding the use of so‐called “flex weights” in court. The Irish airline intended to save charges by employing aircraft which can be used with different Maximum Take Off Weights (MTOW). While the DFS based its charges on the highest registered flexible weight, Ryanair argued, air traffic control charges had to be adapted to the (lower) MTOW actually chosen by Ryanair for each individual flight. The airline therefore instigated proceedings against air traffic control charges for the years 2009‐2012 and continued to pay its charges for all following years “under protest” only.

The Court dismissed Ryanair’s claim. In doing so, it followed the DFS’s arguments and upheld the (then) applicable German regulation according to which air traffic control charges for aircraft with multiple maximum take‐off weights shall be based on the maximum registered MTOW.

“For the DFS, this decision is of fundamental importance.”, says Dr Tobias Masing. “Its significance”, he continues, “goes far beyond the case at hand. The ruling has confirmed basic principles of calculating air traffic control charges with regard to flex weights. The German regulation has now been replaced by a European regulation – with nearly identical wording. The Court’s decision thereby indirectly confirms the standard European practice of calculating air traffic control charges for flex weights. It has rejected the alternative model proposed by Ryanair, for which there is no legal foundation in the applicable law.”

The judgment has not yet become final.

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