Ryanair backs down over passenger rights for cancellations

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary Image copyright PA
Image caption Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary

Ryanair has bowed to regulator demands and spelled out more options on offer to passengers affected by its planned flight disruption.

It has avoided possible legal action by emailing those affected by more than 20,000 flight cancellations.

On its site, Ryanair acknowledges it is required to offer those on cancelled flights full refunds or comparable tickets on rival carriers.

Civil Aviation Authority boss Andrew Haines said Ryanair had "capitulated".

Earlier this week, Mr Andrew Haines said he was "furious" the airline had not been complying with the law by failing to offer to re-route passengers on rival airlines.

In the airline's first wave of cancellations Ryanair offered affected passengers a £40 voucher per cancelled flight as a way to say sorry.

The budget airline said it had taken on more extra staff to process the expected increase in customer claims.

Ryanair was forced by the CAA to clarify that passengers affected who previously "may have chosen an option that was not suitable for them as a result of any misunderstanding of their EU261 rights" were entitled to change their mind, for example by opting for a flight on another airline instead of a refund.

If no Ryanair flight was available to get customers to their ticketed destination, customers can now opt for a comparable flight on Easyjet, Jet2, Vueling, Cityjet, Aer Lingus, Norwegian or Eurowings, the airline clarified.

'Systematically flouting'

Mr Haines confirmed Ryanair had contacted the aviation watchdog late on Friday afternoon and said; "Our job is to protect passengers' rights and ensure that all airlines operating in the UK are fully compliant with important consumer laws.

"Where we find that an airline is systematically flouting these rules, we will not hesitate to take action, to minimise the harm and detriment caused to passengers, as we have done with Ryanair in recent days. It appears that Ryanair has now capitulated.

"We will review their position in detail and monitor this situation to ensure that passengers get what they are entitled to in practice," Haines added.

Ruined plans

Ryanair's Kenny Jacobs said: "We are committed to processing all such claims within 21 days of receipt and hope to have all such claims settled before the end of October."

Ryanair cancelled up to 50 flights a day through to the end of October, affecting 315,000 passengers.

It then cancelled another 18,000 flights between November and March, affecting the travel plans of another 400,000 passengers.

The disruption was brought about because of an error with pilot holiday rotas and Ryanair said cancelling flights would "eliminate all risk of further flight cancellations".

The budget airline said it has updated the Frequently Asked Questions section of its website to reflect all of these changes.

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