Weil Gotshal challenges French decree for Ryanair

Ryanair is turning to Weil Gotshal & Manges in the low-cost airline’s latest spat with the French government.

Weil Gotshal’s Paris head of competition, Cyrille Couadou, is leading the team for Ryanair, which has lodged an action in France’s highest court, the Conseil d’État, to overturn a recently enacted local labour decree.

It requires foreign airlines to apply French labour laws, which are more stringent and pricey than their English counterparts, to their staff in France. Ryanair has termed the decree unlawful.

It has also filed a complaint with the European Commission, branding the decree contrary to the spirit of the European free market.

At the moment, Ryanair uses British employment contracts for its personnel in France.

Ryanair’s company secretary Jim Callaghan said: “This decree is clearly designed to discourage foreign airlines from establishing a base of operations in France in order to compete with the high fare monopoly, Air France.”

Couadou has a longstanding relationship with Ryanair, with Callaghan instructing Weil Gotshal’s Paris office on the bulk of Ryanair’s French matters. Weil Gotshal also has advised the Irish no-frills carrier on English competition issues.

Callaghan told The Lawyer that although Ryanair tends to use Howrey and Weil Gotshal for the bulk of its European work, he does not operate an official panel system.

“It’s horses for courses,” he said. “We instruct different firms on different matters as and when they arise.”