Ryanair has lost its latest appeal against a decision by the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) that the airline was responsible for compensating passengers who were inconvenienced by a pilot strike in 2018.
The cheap carrier has the option of appealing the ruling to the UK’s highest court, the Supreme Court, and the CAA has advised dissatisfied Ryanair passengers to wait for more information before pursuing compensation claims.
After a planned walkout by Ryanair pilots asking that the airline fully recognize unions and improve wages and conditions for crews, more than 400 flights were canceled in August 2018.
Many of the pilots’ demands were eventually granted, however, compensation claims from passengers whose flights were canceled due to Europe’s so-called EC261 refused boarding restrictions were dismissed.
Ryanair claimed that the strike was a “extraordinary event,” exempting airlines from paying compensation for delayed or canceled flights.
The CAA, on the other hand, determined that the strike was not an exceptional case and required Ryanair to comply with EC261. According to the CAA judgment, Ryanair would be required to pay compensation ranging from 250 to 600 euros per passenger.
Ryanair attempted to appeal the decision to the High Court but was unsuccessful. The airline subsequently appealed to the Court of Appeal, which ruled with the CAA once more on Wednesday.
“Ryanair has refused to pay compensation to passengers affected by industrial action taken by its pilots in 2018. We believed that these passengers were in fact protected by law and that Ryanair could not claim its delayed and cancelled flights were ‘extraordinary circumstances’,” commented CAA director Paul Smith, following the court’s decision.
“We would like to advise consumers that Ryanair may seek to appeal this judgement to the Supreme Court. Affected customers should therefore await further information before pursuing their claims,” Smith continued.
“Given consumers have been waiting for clarity on this subject since 2018, this process reinforces the need to modernise our powers. In this respect, we welcome the Government’s recent consultation on strengthening airline passenger rights.”
Separately, readers of consumer rights magazine Which? named Ryanair the worst short-haul airline for processing refunds during the pandemic. Only 47% of those questioned were satisfied with Ryanair’s service for flights that were cancelled as a result of the pandemic.
British Airways was the second-worst airline, with a mere 63% approval rating.