Public Works Ministry looks to toughen sanctions after Ryanair incidents

Minister wants increased powers over foreign airlines operating in Spain

Ana Pastor during a press conference on Monday morning.
Ana Pastor during a press conference on Monday morning.J.M. Espinosa / EFE

Public Works Minister Ana Pastor announced on Monday that she is in negotiations with European authorities over a toughening up of sanctions against airlines that breach safety regulations. The move comes in the wake of a series of incidents in Spain involving low-cost carrier Ryanair.

She also revealed that the government met in August with its counterparts in Ireland, where Ryanair is based, to talk about strengthening the Spanish authorities’ powers over foreign airlines with a strong presence in Spain.

"It’s good that there is competition in the sector, and that there are low prices, but we are not going to allow for low security,” said the minister.

Pastor said that she was in favor of foreign authorities having the power to withdraw an airline’s license, rather than just the company’s home country. But that would be, she added, an “extreme” measure, when “serious sanctions are being continuously levied.”

The minister said that she was currently working with the International Civil Aviation Organization and the European Commission to change the type and amount of sanctions, which will result in a toughening up of fines for companies that don’t comply with regulations, especially those regarding safety.

Without specifically mentioning Ryanair, Pastor cited incidents ranging from the loss of cabin pressure (which occurred on a flight from Madrid to Gran Canaria last week) to problems such as the identification of flights.

The ministry is also investigating three emergency landings involving Ryanair planes in Valencia at the end of July, due to the flights running low on fuel.

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