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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 July, 2003, 11:05 GMT 12:05 UK
Ryanair loses Duesseldorf name battle
Ryanair aircraft
Budget airlines' destinations are sometimes far from major cities
A German court has ruled that the budget airline Ryanair cannot use the word "Duesseldorf" for an airport 70 kilometres (42 miles) from the city.

The court in Cologne said that Ryanair's term "Niederrhein (Duesseldorf)" was deceptive advertising because the airport was too far from the city.

Dublin-based Ryanair flies three times a day from London Stansted airport to the former military airfield at Weeze in the Niederrhein, or Lower Rhine, region.

Low-cost airlines have often been criticised for suggesting their destinations are closer to major cities than they actually are.

But Ryanair has accused its competitor airline Lufthansa and Duesseldorf Airport of being behind the suit brought by the private Centre Against Unfair Competition.

'No complaints'

"Ryanair understands why both Duesseldorf Airport and Lufthansa would want to prevent competition (and lower fares) from another airport near Duesseldorf," the company said in a statement.

Nonsense, said Hans-Reine Schonheit from the lobby group WBZ which had brought the complaint to the court in the first instance.

"It is not located in or around Dusseldorf," he said.

"The court doesn't work for Lufthansa. The court rules according to German law against unfair competition.

"If the court says the name of the airport is missleading, I guess Ryan Air has to accept it"

Lufthansa spokesman Frank Puettmann said Lufthansa was not involved in the legal case.

Ryanair normally flies to smaller airports outside major cities, where airport fees are less expensive and aircraft turnaround times are quicker.

"We have not had any complaints from the 50,000 customers who have used [Duesseldorf] airport," Carolyn Baldwin, Ryanair's sales manager for Germany told the Associated Press news agency.

Ryanair continues to call the airport it uses 120 kilometres (70 miles) from Frankfurt "Frankfurt-Hahn".

Your comments:

Flew Ryanair to Brussels (Charleroi), only to find it was over an hour and a half's bus journey from the city! Misleading? Definitely!
Paul, UK

My girlfriend and I used Ryanair to fly to Verona for a weekend last December. We flew out of Stansted for Brescia-Verona airport, only to find out that the airport was 70km or so away from Verona. The taxi driver charged us 100 Euros for the fare, my girlfriend was in tears (as we were on a budget and this was a considerable chunk out of it). Faced with the same fare on our return, we had to get a train from Verona back to Brescia, instead of paying another 100 euros. When we brought this up at the Ryanair desk, they told us we should have checked before we left, and no one else had complained. Disgusted is the cleanest description I have of the whole experience.
Marcus Doyle, UK

Having had to rescue a group of Americans, none of whom had been abroad before, when they took a train from Stansted Airport to Liverpool Lime Street, rather than Liverpool Street, it seems that not only the airlines have problems!
Alastair Scott, London, United Kingdom

I think Ryanair offers a great service. Sure, not all their airports are near to the city centre, but what is most important - cheap and on-time flights or expensive delayed flights to overcrowded airports?
Neil Dunthorne, England

If you end up 70 miles from your original destination - then it is time to improve your geographical knowledge.
Tibor Borbely, UK

I don't think it makes the slightest bit of difference whether they call it "Niederrhein (Duesseldorf)" or "Niederrhein (nr Duesseldorf)" - it really is just a pointless excuse to spend money on worthless litigation. BAA call my local airport London-Southend Airport. Given Southend was once a major holiday destination for Londoners I find this quite amusing!
Craig, UK

I think companies should be forced to be honest. The main airport at Frankfurt has an excellent public transportation system yet Frankfurt Hahn is at least an extra hour from the centre - this would make a difference to my choice of airline. I would like to see companies compelled to give information on airport locations at the time of booking and in their adverts. Then people can make an informed judgement on whether to travel with a particular carrier.
Richard, Ingelheim, Germany

If I thought I was flying to London and ended up landing at 'London' Luton I'd be pretty upset!
Joe Twyman, UK

On landing at Stansted, there's a big sign which says "Welcome to London"... even that's stretching credibility a bit. I work near "London" Gatwick, yet to travel to "London" Stansted by train takes at least a couple of hours - and will add about 40% to the cost of the flight I'd be likely to make!
Andrew, England

It should be based on the time of transfer from the airport to the city's major train station by public transport. Anything within half an hour can be called the 'City' airport anything more than half an hour but within an hour can be called Airport (for 'City'). London Stansted to London is one of the worst City transfers I've ever experienced
Phil, England

I think the airline has an obligation to be more specific regarding the exact location of the airport - it is sometimes very frustrating to find out that the airport you have chosen to fly to is nowhere near your intended destination and trying to get hold of these details is sometimes impossible or at least, very complicated. Airlines, budget or otherwise, should be more specific on their destinations and allow customers to make an informed choice.
Niall Clarke, United Kingdom

I am going to Dusseldorf next week, and have looked into going with Ryanair. However, after extensive search on the Internet I found out how far away the airport is, and there seem to be no easy transport links (other than by car) into Dusseldorf itself. I am flying now to Cologne-Bonn airport, which is actually nearer.
Julia , UK

In all things to do with Ryanair people need to do their homework and realise that to offer cheap fares they may not land near the city that the airport is named after. From Ryanair's perspective they need to ensure that it is clear on their website etc how far the airport is from the centre of the city that they have linked it to and how a passenger could travel between the two. I have travelled to and from Stockholm with Ryanair to two different airports Vasteras and Skavsta - both are around 80 km away from Stockholm, but there is a coach available to Stockholm and I was aware of the distances beforehand. Coming back from Skavsta I did overhear one passenger saying that they couldn't find the coach and took a taxi which cost more than the air fare. Also with regard to Frankfurt Hahn it should be pointed out that the name was approved by IATA - the association of scheduled airlines (which includes Lufthansa) - and that the airport is in fact partly owned by Fraport the owners of Frankfurt International Airport - so it wasn't Ryanair who initiated its name change.
Andy, UK

I recently flew to Niederrhein airport with Ryanair and then took the Ryanair bus to Duesseldorf and to be perfectly honest, it often takes longer when catching the Airbus from London to Stansted Airport. I certainly wasn't misled by Ryanair and actually found the reference to Duesseldorf quite useful. Thanks to Ryanair I had a cheap 3 day weekend in the lovely city on the Rhine.
Ian, UK

I don't think there's a problem if it is within reason. It is helpful for travellers to highlight the main city. If the connecting journey to the city is only an hour or so and not expensive then I don't see a problem.(e.g. Prestwick/Glasgow, Girona/Barcelona) Hahn would be an obvious exception, 72 miles is too far away.
stevie docherty, scotland

I was actually planning on using Ryanair to fly to Dusseldorf in August, but having read this report then I don't think I will. The cost of travelling back into Dusseldorf plus the cost of the ticket will prove just as expensive as getting a direct flight. Also I have looked on the website and it doesn't appear to mention that it isn't Dusseldorf you will be flying into.
Kirsty Gair, England

You get what you pay for. You want to fly to Brussels, take a proper airline, want to go via Charleroi, half of Belgium away, take a cheapo one.
Phillip Souta, UK

Barcelona-Girona is in Girona and is 100km north of Barcelona. I've really no problem as Ryanair contribution to air travel cannot be overstated. I just wish they'd call it what it is; perhaps Girona.
Peter , UK

There are wonderful bits of coloured paper you can buy to find out where you're going - they're called maps.
Robin Gilmour, Scotland

Over the last two years I have flown 16 return journeys between Stansted(london) and Skavsta(stockholm). My average return flight price has been 30 with Ryanair. It would have been around 250 with BA and 300 with SAS. Some saving! Skavsta is 60 miles south of Stockholm. However there is always a coach waiting for us which leaves within a few minutes of touch down. We are usually in central Stockholm(City Terminalen) within 2 hours of landing. So how much quicker could I get to central london from Heathrow? Maybe within 90 minutes. Wow, that would need every thing to click into place smoothly! So this is a long winded way of saying "do I care if Skavsta is described as being an airport for Stockholm?". Hell no! Ryanair offer a great service. It makes the other airlines look so greedy!
mr tomas hart-shea, england/sweden

Budget airlnes to Scandinavia are the worst in this respect: when flying to "Copenhagen", one lands in Sweden!
Philip Hurst, UK

So we don't need to expand London's existing airports after all - we can build new ones and call them London (Swindon), London (Northampton) and London (Peterborough). All these are 70 miles or more from London, but are just a short ride away using either our efficient rail network or our state-of-the-art motorway system.
Chris Townsend, Herts, UK

Ryanair has a route Stansted to Nimes in the South of France. It's probably as close as you can get to Provence, Arles, Camargue, etc. However, its once a day flights arrive only in late evening - well after all public transport has closed down, necessitating either an overnight hotel in Nimes or an expensive taxi ride. Airport staff are also cheesed off because of this. A minor adjustment to the schedule, arriving 1 hour earlier could make all the difference.
Andrew Peggie, UK

WBZ's Hans-Reine Schonheit
"If the court says the name of the airport is misleading, I guess Ryan Air has to accept it"

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