HomeTravelRyanair must compensate passengers grounded by 2018 pilots strike, court rules

Ryanair must compensate passengers grounded by 2018 pilots strike, court rules

Europe’s biggest budget airline has been told it must compensate tens of thousands of passengers grounded in 2018 by a series of pilots’ strikes.

Ryanair had been seeking to overturn an enforcement order requiring the airline to pay compensation of between £220 and £350 to passengers whose flights from UK airports were cancelled because of the industrial action.

Ryanair claimed the cancellations were due to “extraordinary circumstances” and therefore passengers were ineligible for cash payouts under European air passengers’ rights rules.

While a previous European legal decision excused an airline for paying out after disruption due to a strike, that case involved a wildcat, unofficial stoppage rather than official industrial action after a ballot.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) took Ryanair to court, seeking an enforcement order under Part 8 of the Enterprise Act 2002.

Judge Gerald found in the passengers’ favour in April 2021, but Ryanair promptly appealed in a bid to get the ruling overturned.

The Appeal Court has now upheld the original judgment.

Paul Smith, director of the CAA, said: “Ryanair has refused to pay compensation to passengers affected by industrial action taken by its pilots in 2018.

“We believed that these passengers were in fact protected by law and that Ryanair could not claim its delayed and cancelled flights were ‘extraordinary circumstances’.

“The Court of Appeal has today upheld the High Court’s agreement with our interpretation of the law.

“We are committed to protecting the rights of air passengers and are determined to ensure all airlines comply with their legal obligations.”

But Mr Smith warned: “Ryanair may seek to appeal this judgement to the Supreme Court. Affected customers should therefore await further information before pursuing their claims.

“Given consumers have been waiting for clarity on this subject since 2018, this process reinforces the need to modernise our powers. In this respect, we welcome the government’s recent consultation on strengthening airline passenger rights.”

On Tuesday Ryanair reported a loss of €96m (£80m) for its third quarter, covering the last three months of 2021.

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