Airline’s ‘U-turn’ over cancellations
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.