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BBT March/April 2019 cover
March/April 2019

CAA takes Ryanair to court over compensation denials

Ryanair aircraft

The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) says it has started ‘enforcement action’ against Ryanair for the carrier’s continued refusal to compensate UK-based customers under EU rules.

Ryanair passengers faced hundreds of cancellations over the summer as pilots and cabin crew across Europe staged strike action in a row over working conditions.

According to EU261/2004 regulation, passengers on EU flights are entitled to make a compensation claim if their flight is delayed by three hours or more, cancelled, or when they are denied boarding. This does not apply for delays and cancellations caused by “extraordinary circumstances” such as weather, acts of terrorism, security risks and strikes unrelated to airline staff.

The Irish airline claimed it was not legally required to compensate customers under the rules because the strikes were allegedly incited by staff from rival carriers and were therefore ‘out of its control’. At the time, Ryanair offered passengers a full refund or the option to book on an alternative flight.

A ruling at the Commercial Court of Barcelona upheld Ryanair’s reason for denying compensation, saying the strikes should be considered extraordinary circumstances under the regulation.

However, the CAA said in September that Ryanair was flouting the rules and that passengers were entitled to compensation because it was the airline’s own staff calling the strike.

Passengers who have claimed compensation have had their cases rejected, but they were entitled to escalate their claims to AviationADR – a body approved by the CAA that provides alternative dispute resolutions.

Now, Ryanair has told the CAA that it is terminating its agreement with AviationADR, and as a result, the CAA is taking action against the airline and passengers with unresolved claims “will now have to wait until the outcome” of the CAA’s actions is decided.

Any claims currently in process with AviationADR will be put on hold, while passengers with new claims that have not received a reply from the airline should contact the CAA’s Passenger Advice and Complaints Team.

According to data from AviationADR, Ryanair has accounted for the largest portion of compensation claims it has received this year – 30 per cent of all appeals – and more passengers have put their claims into arbitration this year than any other airline.


The culture of Ryanair appears to always have been one that disregards passenger complaints. It is time for the CAA to tackle this and to have the law clarified around what constitutes extraordinary circumstances. However, whatever the outcome it is unlikley to bring about a change of culture within Ryanair whilst Mr O'Leary remains in charge.

Ian Hamer's picture
Ian Hamer (not verified)

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