Ryanair has announced that it is referring BP to the Office of Fair Trading over hikes in fuel delivery charges in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The budget airline accused Air BP of profiteering and abuse of monopoly after it upped costs at at Prestwick and Belfast City airports.
It called on the OFT to investigate its “unjustified attempts” to impose increases of more than 50% on the delivery cost of aviation fuel at the airports when inflation is running at 5%.
Air BP is the sole supplier of fuel at the airports.
Ryanair said it wrote to the fuel supplier requesting an explanation for the “rapacious increases” but that Air BP refused to provide valid justification.
The supplier reportedly put the increases down to rising oil costs and a downturn in business – despite the fact that latest figures show Belfast City to be Britain’s fastest growing airport.
Ryanair called on the OFT to take immediate action.
Jim Callaghan, Ryanair’s director of legal and regulatory affairs, said: “Air BP has a complete monopoly on the supply of aviation fuel at these airports and is abusing this position to unilaterally impose over 50% cost increases for the delivery of aviation fuel.
“This abuse comes at a time when BP and the other oil majors are making record million-pound profits at the expense of the aviation industry, which is currently in crisis.”
Mr Callaghan said that of the 150 airports at which Ryanair operates, Belfast City and Prestwick are the only two where Air BP has a monopoly and where they are subjecting users to “this kind of profiteering”.
He said Belfast City Airport had made it known to the airlines that if Air BP and Ryanair are unable to agree on pricing, then they will be looking at introducing alternative suppliers.