Passengers claiming compensation after the recent Ryanair flight cancellations could face a battle to get their money.
The airline is claiming that it does not have to pay, despite Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) advice to the contrary.
This week, pilots in Spain, Portugal and Belgium join those in Ireland going on strike, meaning thousands of passengers have had their flights cancelled.
The airline is legally obliged to pay compensation to passengers whose flights are cancelled with less than two weeks’ notice, unless it can prove that the cancellations were caused by what’s known as ‘extraordinary circumstances’. In most cases, the figure will be €250 per person and it could be more for some longer flights.
Use our guide to flight delays and compensation to find out what you might be due and how to claim.
Ryanair claims extraordinary circumstances
The recent strikes by French Air Traffic Controllers are considered to be ‘extraordinary’, as they are outside the airline’s control. However, the CAA has confirmed that strikes by Ryanair’s own employees are its responsibility and should be eligible for compensation.
The CAA said: ‘When a flight cancellation is caused by strike action by the airline’s employees, the airline is required to pay compensation to passengers in respect of the cancellation of the flight, if it has not warned passengers of the cancellation at least two weeks prior to the scheduled time of departure.’
Despite this, Ryanair wrote to the Mail on Sunday to claim: ‘Under EU261 legislation, no compensation is payable when the union is acting unreasonably and totally beyond the airline’s control.’
This is not the first time that Ryanair passengers have been left confused by the airline, which within the past year has changed its policies and fees on luggage, priority boarding and check-in times. Check out our quiz to see how well you know Ryanair.
Fight to claim compensation
If the airline does not pay up, passengers will have no option but to either use Ryanair’s preferred arbitration provider Aviation ADR, which, while authorised by the CAA, has been subject to criticism by Which?, or else take their claim to the courts. Aviation ADR boss Dean Dunham implied to Which? that the arbitrator is likely to rule in consumers’ favour. He cited an April 2018 EU court ruling against Tui, which adjudged that it could not claim the wildcat strike it had experienced was an ‘extraordinary circumstance’.