Ryanair facing multimillion euro compensation bill over delays

Ruling means that millions of passengers could be in line for a payout

Lawyers say Ryanair could be liable for payouts of about £610 million (€848 million) related to compensation for flight delays after the firm lost a test case at Manchester County Court.  File photograph: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

Lawyers say Ryanair could be liable for payouts of about £610 million (€848 million) related to compensation for flight delays after the firm lost a test case at Manchester County Court. File photograph: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

 

Millions of Ryanair passengers could be in line for a payout after a landmark court judgment ruled the airline cannot limit the time allowed to claim compensation for flight delays.

Lawyers say the low-cost Irish carrier could be liable for payouts of about £610 million (€848 million) after the firm lost a test case at Manchester County Court.

The airline had argued claims for delays could be limited to two years under a clause in their terms and conditions small print - not six years, as is the rule under EU Law.

The case was brought by lawyers for six delayed passengers who tried to claim compensation for delayed flights after five years and eight months, which Ryanair contested.

After a long-running legal battle, Judge Platts ruled Ryanair’s rules fall foul of European Flight Delay law. Ryanair said it will appeal the decision.

Lawyers say the ruling in the case, Goel & Trivedi v Ryanair, stands to affect millions of air passengers. They say if Ryanair had won, all airlines might have been able to put a two-year time bar on all existing and future flight delay claims.

After the judgement Ryan issued a statement disputing the “absurd” claims about its potential liability.

“Firstly, since less than 1 per cent of Ryanair flights are delayed over three hours, and since more than 90 per cent of passengers make a valid claim within Ryanair’s contractual two-year period, there is a tiny potential group of passengers who may wish to submit a claim between two and six years after the date of their flight delay,” said the statement. “Accordingly, Ryanair estimates that, even if its appeal in this matter is ultimately unsuccessful, its potential liability will not be material and is likely to be less than €5 million.”

Kevin Clarke, lawyer for Manchester law firm Bott & Co, who fought the case for the passengers, said: “We’re delighted that the court has dismissed yet another argument put forward by the airlines to restrict passenger rights.

“The last 12 months have seen a series of landmark judgments obtained by Bott & Co on behalf of millions of passengers and this is as important as any of those that precede it.

“The Supreme Court decision last year said passengers have six years to bring a claim. That is a definitive, binding, clear judgment from the highest court in England and Wales.

“This should have concluded matters but unfortunately Ryanair have been able to tweak the argument; we found ourselves running a complicated court case arguing the fine points of contract law.

“We fully expect the airlines to continue to fight these cases but we are prepared to hold them to account in each and every instance where the law says compensation is payable, and with the courts continuing to find on behalf of consumers we’ve real cause to be optimistic that passengers will receive the compensation they are entitled to.”

However, Ryanair said they will contest the ruling.

In a statement, the firm said: “We note this ruling which reverses Lower Court orders that a two-year time limit for claims is reasonable.

“Since we believe a six-year time limit for submitting such claims is both unnecessary and unreasonable, we have instructed our lawyers to immediately appeal this ruling.”

Press Association