Ryanair backs down over passenger rights

Airline agrees to implement measures to ensure customers know their entitlements

A Ryanair Boeing 737 at Dublin Airport. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/EPA

A Ryanair Boeing 737 at Dublin Airport. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/EPA


Ryanair has issued its most detailed commitments so far on how it is going to deal with passengers booked on flights that have been cancelled over the next six months because of a shortage of pilots.

Following the move, the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said the airline had “capitulated” by agreeing to implement steps aimed at guaranteeing passengers know their full rights.

Ryanair announced plans to update the advice given to passengers affected by its cancellations after a meeting on Friday with the Irish Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR) in Dublin.

The airline said it would implement measures to ensure affected passengers were fully aware of their “rights and entitlements”. It set out in detail the options for refunds and reroutings, including sending passengers on other airlines or by other means of transport, such as train, bus or car hire.

After the CAR meeting, Ryanair sent a “clarification email” to affected customers outlining their rights and their expenses entitlements if flights are cancelled.

Ryanair simultaneously sent a letter to the CAA in Britain agreeing to meet the authority’s requirement for customer clarification on the airline’s “EU261”obligations, the EU-wide rules governing passenger rights.

The CAA’s reference to a “capitulation” in its response to Ryanair’s announcement points to a degree of hostility between it and the airline.

‘Double standards’

This hostility was reflected in Ryanair’s letter to the CAA, in which it accused the authority of not adopting an equally hardline position against British Airways last May after a computer meltdown left thousands of BA passengers stranded. Ryanair said no apparent action was taken by the CAA in that case.

In the letter, Ryanair called on the CAA “to now require UK airlines to comply with these EU261 obligations which [it] did not apply to British Airways in May this year, when a computer meltdown stranded hundreds of thousands of British citizens/visitors at London Heathrow and many other airports, with no apparent action taken by the CAA in respect of re-accommodation or enforcement against British Airways”.

CAA chief executive Andrew Haines refuted claims of double standards, saying it had secured “22 legal undertakings from airlines and other travel companies on a range of issues to protect consumers” and written to “over 30 airlines seeking confirmation that they too are complying with the rerouting elements of EC261 legislation”.