Ryanair re­sponds to threat of le­gal action

Wales On Sunday - - NEWS -

RYANAIR has re­sponded to threats of le­gal action from the avi­a­tion reg­u­la­tor by email­ing cus­tomers af­fected by flight can­cel­la­tions to clar­ify their rights.

The air­line told pas­sen­gers they can re­ceive a re­fund or be trans­ferred on to other flights or travel by trains, buses or use car hire.

The Civil Avi­a­tion Author­ity (CAA), which on Thurs­day ac­cused the Dublin-based car­rier of “not com­ply­ing with the law” over its han­dling of the fi­asco, claimed the air­line had “ca­pit­u­lated” after en­force­ment action was launched.

It had ac­cused Ryanair of not telling pas­sen­gers that un­der EU261 rules they were en­ti­tled to be re-routed by an­other car­rier.

Ryanair’s offer to pas­sen­gers fea­tures sev­eral con­di­tions, in­clud­ing as­sess­ing the cost of flights on other air­lines “on a case-by-case ba­sis” be­fore book­ings are made.

Alex Neill, a man­ag­ing di­rec­tor at con­sumer group Which?, said pas­sen­gers face a “po­ten­tial mine­field” to reach their des­ti­na­tion, de­scrib­ing the process as “con­vo­luted”.

An ex­tra 18,000 flights for the win­ter season were can­celled by Ryanair on Wed­nes­day – which will hit 400,000 cus­tomers.

Sev­eral pop­u­lar routes used by UK trav­ellers were hit, such as Stansted to Ed­in­burgh and Glas­gow; Gatwick to Belfast, and New­cas­tle to Faro.

Ryanair was al­ready com­ing un­der heavy fire after can­celling up to 50 flights a day ear­lier this month.

Pas­sen­gers have ex­pressed frus­tra­tion with the air­line, with many left out of pocket due to a lack of al­ter­na­tive flights and ac­com­mo­da­tion book­ings they can no longer use.

Ryanair said the can­cel­la­tions were brought about be­cause of an er­ror with pi­lot hol­i­day ros­ters.

CAA chief ex­ec­u­tive An­drew Haines said: “Our job is to pro­tect pas­sen­gers’ rights and en­sure that all air­lines op­er­at­ing in the UK are fully com­pli­ant with con­sumer laws.

“Where we find that an air­line is sys­tem­at­i­cally flout­ing these rules, we will take action to min­imise the harm and detri­ment caused to pas­sen­gers.”

Kenny Ja­cobs, Ryanair’s chief mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer, said: “We have taken on ex­tra staff and are mov­ing to process and ex­pe­dite all EU261 claims.

“We are com­mit­ted to pro­cess­ing all such claims within 21 days of re­ceipt.”

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