When Ryanair passengers were unable to fly as scheduled in 2018 because of union strikes, they turned to the beleaguered airline for compensation.
Their airline refused to pay saying that the flight cancellations were beyond their control. Nevertheless, the Civil Aviation Authority ordered Ryanair to pay up.
Ryanair fought their cause in the Court of Appeal who ruled that passengers are not entitled to payments under the EU261 compensation rules for the disruption as these were extraordinary circumstances beyond the airline’s control.
His Honour Judge Iain Hughes said:
As a matter of principle, no airline can control the demands made on it by a trade union. All airlines, whether they are state-owned or owned by their shareholders, are subject to competing interests and cannot simply concede all such demands as are made on them by trade unions.
“Airlines have to take into account a much broader range of interests, including the interest of the business itself, the interests of passengers, the interests of non-striking employees, the interests of its owners and must have regard to the competition that it faces in the market place..
An airline spokesman said:
Ryanair pays the vast majority of EU261 compensation claims it receives without dispute, but on occasion Ryanair must reject claims where we believe an unavoidable disruption is due to extraordinary circumstances.
“While we do not wish to disappoint customers, who may have been expecting EU261 compensation, we must defend such claims as we have a duty to all our customers, our staff and the regions we serve to manage our costs responsibly.
“Failure by Ryanair in this regard would raise fares and reduce choice for all our customers, in particular on regional routes which are disproportionately affected by EU261 costs.
This ruling follows similar decisions made in Ireland, Spain, Germany, France and Italy.