Ryanair has said it will not compensate customers whose flights have been cancelled due to a recent cabin crew and pilots’ strike.
But the airline is on a collision course with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) which oversees such matters and has made clear it disagrees with the decision.
Ryanair said in a statement that because the disruption was caused by “extraordinary circumstances, no compensation is due”.
It added: “Under EU261 legislation, no compensation is payable when the union is acting unreasonably and totally beyond the airline’s control.”
This goes against a statement made by the CAA earlier this month which reiterated passengers’ rights.
It said: “Passengers have the right to seek compensation under EU legislation when flights are delayed by three hours or more, cancelled or when they are denied boarding.
“We note that the recent industrial action is not by Ryanair’s UK employees, but it is the view of the UK Civil Aviation Authority... that 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.”
Under EU law, passengers should be able to claim €250 (£222) for flights cancelled without being given two weeks’ notice.
The Irish low cost carrier – Europe’s largest by passenger numbers – is in the midst of its worst week of stoppages in more than three decades of flying, as it struggles in talks with trade unions who it has decided to recognise for the first time.
Pilots are demanding more transparent systems for promotions and transfers to reduce what they say is excessive management discretion over their careers, while cabin crew want local contracts and better conditions, reports Reuters.
Around a quarter of its Dublin-based pilots staged their third 24-hour stoppage in two weeks on Tuesday, while cabin crew in Italy, Spain, Portugal and Belgium began a two-day strike on Wednesday, prompting Ryanair to cancel more than 12% of its flights.
Warning investors on Monday of more strikes this summer, chief executive Michael O’Leary said he would consider moving aircraft from Ireland, Belgium and Portugal.
“If our reputation for reliability or forward bookings is affected, then base and potential job cuts such as these at Dublin are a deeply regretted consequence,” Ryanair’s chief operating officer Peter Bellew said in a statement.
Ryanair’s directly employed pilots, who are members of its Irish trade union, responded by calling a fourth one-day strike on August 3 and warned of further stoppages unless the airline changes tack.
The airline’s decision to begin redundancy consultations with more than 100 Dublin pilots and more than 200 cabin crew who were issued with 90-day notice was a “reckless” and “provocative” move that will likely harden the pilots’ resolve, the Forsa/IALPA trade union said in a statement.
Ryanair in turn said it could not rule out cutting further aircraft and jobs from Dublin as a result of the latest strike and would not hold any further meetings with the union while the threat of strikes hangs over its Irish business.