Everyone’s favourite airline – Ryanair – has a case at European Court of Justice, where they should had compensated a passenger who’s flight was cancelled due to the Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupting and spewing ash into the sky.
During that time, planes that had to traverse through the ash cloud had their services scrubbed, with major cancellations.
Ryanair argued at court that the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull volcano was so extraordinary that normal rules should not apply (EU261/06).
Judges have ruled otherwise – and now making a binding rule in the European Union saying such events
”constitute ‘extraordinary circumstances’ which do not release air carriers from their obligation to provide care”.
This leaves the passenger in the duty of care of the airline, with no time limit or money to look after its passengers.
The case came to light when Denise McDonagh had a seven-day wait for a Faro-Dublin flight on Ryanair, and had spent 1,130 euros (£968) on a hotel, food and transport – who has been awaiting payment since 2010.
The payment still has not been paid.
Ryanair has already paid out 27m euros to compensate people left stranded by the ash cloud, and whilst the airline is not expecting a flood of new claims, it had hoped to win the case to limit them in future.
The European Court of Justice says the passenger
“Reimbursement of the amounts which proved necessary, appropriate and reasonable to make up for the shortcomings of the air carrier”
Ryanair has put out a PR in response:
“Ryanair regrets the decision of the European Court which now allows passengers to claim for flight delays which are clearly and unambiguously outside of an airline’s control.
“When governments closed large swathes of European airspace unnecessarily in response to non-existent ‘ash clouds’ over Ireland the UK and continental Europe in 2010, the travel insurance companies escaped liability by claiming it was an ‘act of God’.
“Today’s ruling by the European Court now makes the airlines the insurer of last resort even when in the majority of cases (such as ATC delays or national strikes in Europe) these delays are entirely beyond an airline’s control.
“Today’s decision will materially increase the cost of flying across Europe and consumer airfares will increase as airlines will be obliged to recover the cost of these claims from their customers, because the defective European regulation does not allow us to recover such costs from the governments or unions who are responsible for over 95% of flight delays in Europe.”
Already, Ryanair has a €2 Compensation surcharge in its fares, with fare expected to rise because of this ruling.
The ECJ has published its judgement at http://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2013-01/cp130008en.pdf whilst the UK Human Rights blog examines the arguments in an easy to understand form.
And as usual… most of you know my opinion of Ryanair, it’s practices and its surcharges. Thankfully, in lots of other cases – there are plenty of other airlines.