Most cancellation-hit Ryanair passengers due compensation - expert
Aviation law expert expects airline to have lawyers ready and ‘to put up all sorts of obstacles’
Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary: Airline has yet to reveal which flights will be affected after Wednesday, which has prompted anger among many whose trips hang in the balance. File photograph: Getty Images
Up to 95 per cent of the 300,000 passengers who will be hit by Ryanair’s flight cancellations in the weeks ahead will be entitled to substantial compensation, an expert in aviation law has said.
The flight cancellations which have come about after Ryanair “messed up” its pilot rosters as it switches its annual leave year, as required by European rules, could end up costing it in excess of €100 million.
But the impact of the airline’s surprise cancellation programme, which has already thrown the travel plans of thousands of people into disarray, will not just be financial. Stories have been emerging of holidays and weddings ruined.
Paris-based solicitor Cathal Maher works with airline compensation agencies pursuing claims under EU 261, the directive which outlines if and when passengers are entitled to compensation following flight delays and cancellations. He told The Irish Times the vast majority of those hit by cancellations will qualify for compensation of at least €250.
However, Mr Maher said he expected Ryanair to have “a team of lawyers ready for this and the airline could put up all sorts of obstacles in the way of passengers”.
“By my estimation, as many as 95 per cent of those who have flights cancelled will be entitled to compensation,” he said. “On top of that, the airline will also have a duty of care to people who have been stranded overseas. People who are unable to recoup money paid out for accommodation or car hire or anything else will be out of pocket,” he said.
The Commission for Aviation Regulation, which oversees air passenger rights, said it was expecting a high volume of claims for compensation from travellers affected by the cancellations.
A spokesman said anyone affected by the cancellations could chose between a refund or re-routing.
Compensation may also be payable depending on the notice period Ryanair has given and the distance to be travelled, with compensation payments of between €250 and €400 per cancelled flight available. Compensation is separate to the reimbursement of expenses and/or the refund of the cost of an unused flight ticket.
The airline has cancelled more than 50 flights across Europe on Monday, including six flights departing from Dublin Airport to Amsterdam, Brussels, Manchester, London Gatwick, Bristol and Barcelona. Flights into Dublin from those six destinations have also been cancelled by the airline.
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A further three flights out of Dublin - to Berlin, Glasgow and Kraków - have been cancelled on Tuesday, with the return flights also cancelled. Wednesday will see four flights into and out of Dublin - to Paris, Manchester, Amsterdam and Bristol fall victim to the cancellation programme.
Trips in the balance
No other Irish airports are to be affected in the first half of this week, although Ryanair has yet to reveal which flights will be affected after Wednesday - something which has prompted anger among many whose trips with the airline hang in the balance.
Ryanair spokesman Kenny Jacobs said cancellation notices for flights affected up to and including on Wednesday have been sent to customers and the airline will continue to send regular updates and to post flight information on its website.
“We apologise to all affected customers for these cancellations. We have messed up in the planning of pilot holidays and we’re working hard to fix that,” he said.