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Ryanair cancellations: Airline faces legal action after cancelling 400,000 more flights

'We are seeking to ensure that Ryanair’s customers will receive the correct and necessary information,' says CAA chief 

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Wednesday 04 October 2017 11:36 BST
Ryanair extends flight cancellation plans to mid-March

Ryanair faces legal action for “persistently misleading” passengers whose flights it has cancelled because of a shortage of pilots.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has made the threat after what it says is a series of failures to spell out the rights of hundred of thousands of passengers.

When an EU airline cancels a flight with more than two weeks’ notice, it need not pay compensation. But it must offer a flight on another airline if that is the best option for the passenger, and bear the cost of transfers to or from alternative airports.

The CAA’s chief executive, Andrew Haines, has written to the airline’s legal chief, Juliusz Komorek, outlining breaches of the rules on passengers’ rights and threatening legal action under the Enterprise Act 2002.

Mr Haines reveals that the CAA first wrote to Ryanair on 18 September, following a press conference given by the airline’s chief executive, Michael O’Leary.

“Michael O’Leary stated that Ryanair was not obliged to reroute passengers on airlines other than Ryanair,” Mr Haines writes.

The following day, the CAA demanded a correction to the statement.

“To date, you have failed to make this correction,” says the letter.

Ryanair extends flight cancellation plans to mid-March

Following a first round of 2,100 cancellations until the end of October, Ryanair has announced 18,000 more flights will be grounded between November and March.

The CAA says that the notification sent by the airline to up to 400,000 passengers failed to advise them of their rights: “The email refers only to a reroute on a Ryanair flight and contains no information about the possibility of rerouting on another airline.

“It also refers to the possibility of rerouting from different departure or destination airports but fails to inform passengers that Ryanair is obliged to bear the cost of transferring passengers to those other airports.”

Mr Haines says that as a result of the incomplete information, the average traveller is likely “to take a transactional decision he or she would not have taken otherwise”.

A spokesperson for the airline told The Independent: “We are in correspondence with the CAA and have addressed their concerns.” The section of the Ryanair website about the latest round of cancellations now includes the offer: “If you require rerouting options, such as departing/arriving from another airport served by Ryanair or (if a Ryanair flight is unavailable at your departure airport or a suitable alternative airport) an alternative airline, please contact one of our advisers using our free online chat or calling one of our customer service contact numbers.”

But Matthew Rice, whose flight from Belfast to Gatwick was among the cancellations, said: “Ryanair are still refusing to reroute customers onto alternative airlines. The customer services reps are advising that this is not ‘Ryanair policy’ despite being plastered on the website.”

He supplied a transcript of a ‘live chat’ session conducted at 5pm on Monday in which a customer service representative repeatedly and incorrectly insists that because Mr Rice had been advised of the cancellation more than two weeks ahead, he was not entitled to be rebooked on another airline.

“I am sorry Matthew, I cannot override the Ryanair policy,” she concludes.

Ryanair is offering all passengers affected by the cancellations a £40 voucher for each flight cancelled. This is additional to their rights under EU rules.

Click here to compare flight options with Skyscanner

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