The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has urged Ryanair to start compensating passengers if their flights have been cancelled by recent strikes across Europe, but the carrier says the walk-outs are ‘out of its hands’ because they have been incited by crew from rival airlines.
Ryanair published its offer to pilots and cabin crew yesterday “in order to set the record straight”. It claims competitor trade unions are spreading “propaganda” and that crew, unions and lobby groups are taking “anti-competitive” actions against the airline.
Because the strikes have been encouraged by competitor unions, Ryanair says passengers affected are not entitled to compensation under EU261 rules, as they are out of the carrier’s control. To date, Ryanair has only offered customers the ability to change their flight or request a refund.
However, the CAA argues that it is Ryanair staff going on strike, therefore the airline is responsible for compensating passengers accordingly.
Under EU regulations, passengers are entitled to a refund or new flights if their trip is cancelled and can also claim between £110 and £540 if their flight is cancelled within 14 days of departure and can be deemed as the airline’s fault.
Staff strikes were previously a gray area under the regulation, but the European Court of Justice ruled in April that industrial action can be avoided by airlines through negotiation and therefore are not considered ‘extraordinary’ circumstances.
Aviation ADR, Ryanair’s dispute resolution handler, recommends passengers affected by the strike cancellations take their case to it if their initial claims are rejected. The body says it has ruled in favour of customers for every strike this year, though payouts are often delayed – only 14 per cent of claims filed this year have been paid.
Ryanair has now filed a competition complaint with the European Commission, calling for an investigation of the “anti-competitive behaviour” of those it deems responsible for the recent strikes.
The news comes after Ryanair cancelled nearly 190 flights for Friday ahead of cabin crew walk-outs in Spain, Belgium, Holland, Portugal, Italy and Germany.