03:36, December 05 237 0 theguardian.com

2018-12-05 03:36:25
Ryanair faces legal action over refusal to refund cancelled flights

The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority is taking legal action against Ryanair over the airline’s refusal to compensate thousands of UK customers affected by flight disruption over the summer.

Ryanair was hit by its worst ever strikes in the summer, as walkouts by pilots and cabin crew over pay and conditions forced it to cancel flights, including to major holiday destinations such as Spain, Italy and Portugal. Passengers have made claims for compensation to the airline, but these have been rejected by Ryanair on the grounds that the disruption arose from “exceptional circumstances” and therefore exempt.

However, the CAA says passengers are entitled to compensation under EU law.

Passengers have previously been able to take their complaints to AviationADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution), a body approved by the CAA, but Ryanair has informed the CAA that it has ended its agreement with AviationADR.

This means passengers who have made strike-related compensation claims through AviationADR will have to wait for the CAA’s legal action, which could result in court proceedings.

In a statement, Dublin-based Ryanair said: “Courts in Germany, Spain and Italy have already ruled that strikes are an ‘exceptional circumstance’ and EU261 compensation does not apply. We expect the UK CAA and courts will follow this precedent.”

Sign up to the daily Business Today email.

Passengers with new claims who are not satisfied with the outcome or have not received a reply from the airline within eight weeks, are advised by the regulator to contact its passenger advice and complaints team.

Recent figures from the ADR service showed Ryanair passengers accounted for the biggest proportion of all appeals, at 30%.

There were a series of staff walkouts in Germany, Sweden, Ireland, Belgium and the Netherlands over the summer. Ryanair pledged to offer affected passengers alternative flights at the time.

Europe’s biggest budget carrier secured a breakthrough in August when it struck a deal with Irish pilots over pay and conditions, and reached another agreement with German pilots this week.