Air­line’s ‘U-turn’ over can­cel­la­tions

Irish Daily Mail - - News - By James Ward

RYANAIR was taunted by Bri­tish avi­a­tion chiefs yes­ter­day who claimed it had been forced into an em­barass­ing U-turn.

The Bri­tish Civil Avi­a­tion Author­ity said the air­line had been forced to ‘ca­pit­u­late’ and in­form can­cel­la­tion-hit pas­sen­gers of their right to be flown on ri­val air­lines.

Ear­lier this week the CAA ac­cused Ryanair of ‘mis­lead­ing’ its cus­tomers, by wrongly claim­ing it was not obliged to ar­range new flights for cus­tomers on ri­val air­lines. But yes­ter­day the air­line caved in to le­gal pres­sure from the CAA to tell all 400,000 pas­sen­gers how they would pro­vide al­ter­na­tive travel ar­range­ments.

When the scan­dal broke two weeks ago, Michael O’Leary vowed not to send his cus­tomers to his com­peti­tors.

‘We will not pay for flights on other air­lines. We can­not af­ford to pay the high costs of our com­peti­tors.’

But O’Leary’s air­line was forced to change its stance yes­ter­day, in­form­ing cus­tomers it will give full re­funds, re­book cus­tomers on other Ryanair or ‘com­pa­ra­ble low cost car­ri­ers’, as well as re­im­burs­ing ‘rea­son­able out of pocket ex­penses’.

Ryanair’s Kenny Ja­cobs said: ‘We apol­o­gise again, sin­cerely, for the dis­rup­tion and in­con­ve­nience our ros­ter­ing fail­ure has caused some of our cus­tomers.’ He said they had re­funded or re-ac­com­mo­dated 97% of cus­tomers af­fected by the ini­tial can­cel­la­tions an­nounced on Septem­ber 18.

The air­line said it had emailed all cus­tomers again to clar­ify their rights to re­funds, fol­low­ing crit­i­cism from pas­sen­gers, gov­ern­ment and con­sumer groups.

The CAA threat­ened le­gal ac­tion against the air­line af­ter it made a sec­ond round of can­cel­la­tions, af­fect­ing 18,000 flights, say­ing they had flouted the EC261 leg­is­la­tion on the mat­ter.

Yes­ter­day, CAA chief ex­ec­u­tive An­drew Haines said it ap­peared that Ryanair had ‘ca­pit­u­lated’ and that it would re­view their new po­si­tion in de­tail.

Speaking from a Euro­pean sum­mit in Estonia yes­ter­day, Taoiseach Leo Varad­kar said he ex­pected Ryanair to hon­our its com­mit­ments.’

Mean­while, the Ryanair Pi­lot Group are re­port­edly call­ing for an EGM of share­hold­ers to ‘pro­tect their in­vest­ments’ and address the an­i­mos­ity be­tween staff and the air­line.

They are also pre­dict­ing that flight can­cel­la­tions will con­tinue be­yond when the end of the win­ter pe­riod in March 2018, de­spite what se­nior Ryanair man­age­ment have said.

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