Ryanair asks court to reverse decision

Wed, Feb 6, 2013, 00:00

The Circuit Civil Court has been asked to overturn a decision of Swords District Court directing Ryanair to pay €400 compensation to each of two Dutch passengers left stranded in Portugal following a flight cancellation.

Peter Lennon, solicitor for Ryanair, told Judge Jacqueline Linnane yesterday the airline had already agreed to pay Ellen Verbeek and Ferry Nelissen, of Venlo, the Netherlands, €1,118.62 each for overnight expenses arising from the cancellation.

Small claims procedure

He said a European Small Claims Procedure, in accordance with EU Regulation 261/2004, had been brought before Swords District Court, where the judge, having examined written evidence, awarded each passenger €1,918.62, which included €400 compensation.

Mr Lennon said Ryanair was appealing the €400 compensation award in each case on the basis that the cancellation of the flight, from Faro to Dusseldorf on July 29th, 2011, had been caused by extraordinary weather.

He said a scheduled incoming Ryanair flight to Faro, which was to have taken the Dutch passengers to Dusseldorf, had been unable to land because of low cloud and fog and had been diverted to Seville in Spain.

Hugh O’Flaherty jnr, barrister for the passengers, said they claimed other aircraft had continued to land and take off from Faro on the date and at about the same time the Ryanair flight commander had considered it unsafe to land there and had diverted. They claimed there had not been extraordinary weather conditions.

Work commitments

Mr O’Flaherty said that because of work commitments his clients had to book a flight to Dusseldorf for the following day with another airline.

Ryanair flight operations manager Ian Wallace said the diverted flight had been held circling between Portugese and Spanish airspace for 20 minutes before the decision to divert for safety reasons. It had been considered unsafe to approach Faro.

Mr Lennon said that last week the European Court of Justice, while holding Ryanair must pay cost-of-care expenses with regard to flight delays, had ruled it was exempt from paying statutory compensation. Mr Lennon and Mr O’Flaherty are to prepare written legal submissions for the court.