CAA challenges Ryanair’s payout refusal
RYANAIR faces a “watershed” legal bid by the Civil Aviation Authority to force the low-cost carrier to pay compensation to customers affected by a wave of strike action over the summer.
The Irish airline is refusing to reimburse passengers, claiming the action across Europe amounted to “extraordinary circumstances” and that compensation laws do not apply. In April the European Court of Justice ruled that “wildcat strikes” do not fall within the scope of “extraordinary circumstances”, which usually relates to bad weather or air traffic controller disruption.
Ryanair was hit by unprecedented levels of industrial action this summer as pilots and cabin crew launched concerted action.
Coupled with rising fuel prices, the airline admitted in October that profits have been hurt as result. And strike action has also negatively impacted passenger confidence, with fewer forward bookings made over the school half-term and Christmas periods.
Meanwhile, investors have raised concerns about Ryanair’s corporate governance, with a sizeable vote against the re-election of two of its board.
The CAA’s legal bid to enforce such a ruling was praised by consumer groups.
Henrik Zillmer, chief executive of compensation company Airhelp, said it “marks a watershed moment for both legislation and importantly consumer aviation rights”.
Almost a quarter of a million UK passengers were affected by the delays and cancellations, Airhelp said.
A Ryanair spokesman said: “Courts in Germany, Spain and Italy have already ruled that strikes are an ‘extraordinary circumstance’ and EU261 compensation does not apply. We expect the UK CAA and courts will follow this precedent.”
Watershed: Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary