Watchdog will monitor Ryanair’s handling of refunds

Regulator welcomes airline’s commitment to ensure passengers know their rights

Ryanair issued a clarification email on Friday to all affected customers outlining their rights to refunds and flight changes, including being rerouted on another Ryanair flight or completing their journey with other providers and receiving expenses. File photograph: Kevin Coombs/Reuters

Ryanair issued a clarification email on Friday to all affected customers outlining their rights to refunds and flight changes, including being rerouted on another Ryanair flight or completing their journey with other providers and receiving expenses. File photograph: Kevin Coombs/Reuters

 

The Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR) in Dublin has welcomed Ryanair’s announcement that the airline will implement measures to ensure passengers affected by flight cancellations are fully aware of their rights. The commission has also outlined plans to monitor Ryanair’s handling of refunds.

Ryanair has agreed to a series of steps to address the CAR’s requirements to ensure all customers affected by Ryanair’s rostering-related flight cancellations are fully aware of the EU rules governing air passengers’ rights, known as EU261.

These entitlements include full refunds where requested, or re-accommodation on other Ryanair flights or other comparable transport options with reimbursement of reasonable out-of-pocket expenses.

After meeting CAR officials in Dublin on Friday, Ryanair issued a clarification email to all affected customers outlining their rights to refunds and flight changes, including being rerouted on another Ryanair flight or completing their journey with other providers and receiving expenses.

It also issued a press release explaining to customers how and when they will be re-accommodated on other Ryanair flights or flights with other airlines. This press release was displayed on the home page of Ryanair’s website from Friday and the airline updated the FAQ pages of its website to reflect the changes.

A CAR spokesman said that since Ryanair’s first announcement of flight cancellations two weeks ago, it had engaged with it to ensure information was quickly provided on details of each flight cancelled in the first wave of cancellations and that affected passengers were contacted about refunding, rerouting, care and assistance and their right to compensation.

In relation to the second wave of cancellations, it engaged with Ryanair to publish a list of affected Irish flights, which it did on Thursday.

“We have also, today, secured agreement from Ryanair that it will comply with the regulations and directly provide affected customers with the necessary information on refunds, rerouting, care and assistance and compensation,” a spokesman said.

He added that Ryanair had confirmed it had taken on additional staff to ensure that all refunds are provided to affected passengers within seven working days and that the airline would deal with all claims for expenses and compensation within 28 working days.

Compensation

Ryanair has also committed to provide the commission, on a weekly basis, with an update on the number of passengers out of Ireland entitled to compensation and expenses and the number of passengers out of Ireland entitled to expenses alone. It said Ryanair would also supply it with the number of claims submitted and the number of claims closed out.

“Ryanair has an obligation to reroute passengers to their final destination at the earliest opportunity. We fully expect Ryanair to offer rerouting on alternative airlines or to alternative airports as appropriate (as they have outlined they will do). If rerouting means you have to stay an extra night, Ryanair must provide care and assistance at its expense; for example, hotel accommodation, meals and refreshments and transport to the hotel,” the spokesman said.

Ryanair has also replied to a letter sent by the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on Thursday agreeing to meet the authority’s requirement for customer clarification on Ryanair’s EU261 obligations, which are in line with those requested by the CAR.

In a letter sent by the CAA on Wednesday, its chief executive Andrew Haines accused Ryanair of “persistently misleading passengers with inaccurate information regarding their rights”. In particular, he said, emails alerting passengers about cancellations did not point out the right to a flight on another airline, if that was the best solution.

Ryanair has announced the cancellation of 462 flights from Dublin over the winter period as part of the cancellation of 18,000 flights which will affect 400,000 customers.

The winter routes affected will be Dublin to Birmingham, Paris Beauvais, Barcelona, Bucharest, Madrid, Warsaw, Modlin and Krakow.