Millions of airline passengers could be due compensation for delayed Ryanair flights following a landmark court ruling against the airline.
Lawyers for the airline say it could be liable for compensation payouts of around £610m.
The landmark court judgement ruled that Ryanair couldn’t limit the time allowed for passengers to claim compensation for delayed flights.
Ryanair had argued that claims for delays could be limited to two years under a clause written in its terms and conditions.
Under European law, passengers have the right to claim compensation for delayed or cancelled flights for up to six years.
Which? is urging people to hold their airline to account and claim the compensation they’re owed if they have a lengthy delay and the airline is at fault.
The case against Ryanair
The case was brought against Ryanair at Manchester County Court by two passengers who were delayed on the same flight in 2009.
According to the Denied Boarding Regulation, passengers who are delayed for three hours or more are entitled to compensation – as much as £440 – unless the delay was due to ‘extraordinary circumstances’.
However, Ryanair terms and conditions state that claims must be made within two years of the delay.
The airline argued that passengers automatically accept these conditions when they purchase a ticket, but this argument was rejected by the court.
Ryanair has disputed the figures cited by it’s lawyers saying that only a small group of passengers are likely to claim since ‘more than 90% of passengers make valid claims within Ryanair’s contractual two-year period.’
Six years to claim
Manchester County Court’s decision follows a ruling made in October 2014 by the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court ruled against Thomson Airways in a similar case and clarified that passengers in England and Wales can take a compensation claim to court for up to six years after a delay.
The decision against Ryanair could open up the airline to as many as two million claims for compensation from disgruntled passengers who would previously have been unable to claim due to the two-year deadline.
It could also have further implications for other airlines who have similar stipulations in their terms and conditions relating to compensation claim deadlines.
Huge victory for consumers
Which? has welcomed the ruling, with executive director Richard Lloyd stating: ‘This case is a huge victory for consumers and should deter other attempts to shorten the six-year limit for seeking redress.
‘It’s about time that airlines hold their hands up and pay compensation where it’s due.’
In a recent investigation, Which? found that more than 9,000 flights were delayed for three hours or more over a year, which could mean around 900,000 passengers are potentially eligible to receive compensation.
Half of those surveyed who had been delayed said they received no support or information about the delay from their airline.
Richard Lloyd added: ‘We are urging people to hold their airline to account and claim the compensation they are rightly owed if they have a lengthy delay.’