Refunds relief after Ryanair finally gives in
CRISIS-HIT airline Ryanair “capitulated” yesterday and agreed to meet the costs of re-routing and compensating 700,000 passengers hit by mass flight cancellations.
It agreed the move after regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority, triggered enforcement action against the Dublin-based airline for “persistently misleading” passengers about their rights.
And yesterday, with less than one hour remaining to a 5pm deadline, Ryanair issued a statement saying it had agreed to meet the CAA’s demands.
CAA chief executive Andrew Haines said: “It appears that Ryanair has now capitulated. We will review their position in detail and monitor this situation to ensure that passengers get what they are entitled to in practice.”
The row centres on Ryanair’s decision to axe more than 20,000 flights over the autumn and winter after making a “mess” of pilots’ holiday rosters.
Before yesterday’s announcement, outspoken Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary had estimated the cost of the cancellations to the airline to be about £22million.
But that bill is likely to rise significantly as a result of the CAA action.
Passengers hit by cancellations are entitled to refunds, reasonable expenses or to be booked on an equivalent flight by a rival airline.
Earlier this week the CAA accused the Dublin-based carrier of “not complying with the law” over its handling of the fiasco.
It said Mr O’Leary had publicly stated that Ryanair was not obliged to re-route passengers on other airlines.
It also said the Ryanair website had failed to inform passengers about their rights.
This week CAA chief executive Andrew Haines said he was “furious” at Ryanair’s lack of customer care after it cancelled an extra 18,000 flights for the winter season on Wednesday – a move that will hit 400,000 customers.
The latest round of cancellations includes several popular routes in the UK, such as Stansted to Edinburgh and Glasgow, Gatwick to Belfast, Newcastle to Faro, and Glasgow to Las Palmas. Earlier this month Ryanair cancelled up to 50 flights a day, affecting more than 300,000 passengers. The CAA’s enforcement action carries the threat of a substantial fine. After meeting the Irish Commission for Aviation Regulation, Ryanair yesterday agreed to meet its and the CAA’s requirements. A Ryanair statement said: “Ryanair has today issued a clarification email to all affected customers outlining their rights to refunds, re-routing on Ryanair or on other comparable transport options, and expenses.” Ryanair’s Kenny Jacobs said: “We apologise again sincerely for the disruption and inconvenience. “We have taken on extra customer service staff and are moving now to process and expedite all claims from affected customers.” Alex Neill, of consumer group Which?, said the CAA now needs to “watch Ryanair like a hawk” to ensure it honours its commitments.
Ryanair passengers at Stansted yesterday
Under fire… Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary