Ryanair to introduce €2 levy for passengers

 

RYANAIR IS to introduce a €2 booking levy to fund expenses incurred by passengers due to delays. The airline said the levy will apply to all bookings from next Monday.

EU law states that airlines must cover the reasonable expenses of passengers delayed for reasons beyond an airline’s control.

Flight cancellations and delays to more than 15,000 flight affecting more than 2.4 million passengers last year cost the airline €100 million, money it now plans to recoup from passengers.

The airline said the majority of claims were due to the Icelandic volcano airspace closures of April and May last year, the snow closures of many EU airports in November and December and over 15 days of national air traffic controller (ATC) strikes in Belgium, France, Germany and Spain last summer.

The EU261 regulations state that airlines have to offer passengers affected by flight cancellations a refund or a rerouting on the next available flight and mandate that they are obliged to provide accommodation and refreshment for passengers who choose to be rerouted.

At the height of the ash crisis last year, Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary described as “absurd” the legal obligations which European airlines have to passengers affected by cancelled flights. He insisted that Ryanair would not cover the accommodation or food costs of passengers over and above the “original air fare paid by each passenger”. A day later he was forced into an embarrassing U-turn after bowing to pressure from passengers, but the sting in the tale only became apparent yesterday afternoon.

“The EU261 regulations are discriminatory in the way they are applied, by making airlines responsible for delays, cancellations and right of care expenses during force majeure events such as volcanic eruptions, the snow closure of airports and the frequent ATC strikes across Europe,” said Ryanair spokesman Stephen McNamara.

He said the company regretted imposing the levy but “the extraordinary costs which have been imposed on us by delays and cancellations under these discriminatory regulations must be recovered from passengers”.

The airline said it would help to defray costs which were not recoverable from governments, ATC providers or airports. It said if the EU261 regulations were reformed, to include an effective right of recovery clause and a non-discriminatory force majeureclause it would reduce or eliminate the charge. Mr McNamara said it was “clearly unfair that airlines are obliged to provide meals and accommodation for passengers (for days and weeks in some cases), simply because governments close their airspace, or air traffic controllers walk off the job, or incompetent airports fail to clear their runways of snow”.

LOW FLYER DUBLIN AIRPORT 98TH IN WORLD RANKING

DUBLIN AIRPORT has come in at 98th place – three places below Calcutta – in a confidential international ranking of the world’s 146 main airports.

The benchmarking survey of passenger satisfaction in the second quarter of 2010 ranked Dublin a place above Heathrow, which came in at 99th place.

Dublin was one place lower in passenger satisfaction than Athens, 89 places lower than Humberside and 95 places behind Hong Kong.

Compiled by the Airports Council International, the figures nevertheless put Dublin ahead of Gatwick (106), Stansted (109), Frankfurt (126) and Charles de Gaulle (137). In first place for overall satisfaction is Singapore’s Changi airport.

The normally confidential survey appeared in British media yesterday and the content was confirmed by an Irish aviation source. However, the source said the survey was intended for use by airports to benchmark against their “peer airports”, those similar in passenger volume. Terminal Two (T2) at Dublin was not open at the time of the survey.

An International Air Transport Association design scale for airports also ranks airports for suitability and passenger comfort and service. While Changi was designed to the top specification, T2 was designed only to deliver level C in the scale which runs from A to F. Level C is defined as “good”. A spokesman for the Dublin Airport Authority said it was important that Dublin airport be benchmarked “like with like”.

TIM O'BRIEN