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28th Sep 2017

Ryanair may face legal action for ‘persistently misleading’ passengers about their rights over cancelled flights

Paul Moore

“Enforcement action” has been launched.

With the news that 400,000 passengers are to be affected by further Ryanair schedule changes in the coming months, the Civil Aviation Authority has “launched enforcement action against Ryanair for persistently misleading passengers with inaccurate information regarding their rights in respect of its recent cancellations.”

Yesterday afternoon, the airline announced that they would be reducing its flying schedule between the months of November and March. By doing so, they aim to eliminate all risk of roster-related flight cancellations.

Ryanair says that less than 400,000 customers are booked on flights between November 2017 and March 2018 and that these new changes will affect less than one flight a day across Ryanair’s 200 airports over a five-month period.

All customers affected by the changes have received an email giving them between five weeks’ and five months’ notice of the schedule changes, offering them alternative flights or full refunds of their airfare. They have also received a €40 (€80 return) travel voucher which will allow them to book – during the month of October – a flight on any Ryanair service between October 2017 and March 2018.

Since this statement was made, the CAA has stated that they’ve previously contacted the airline regarding previous cancellations and that they’re still not satisfied with the steps taken.

“Earlier this month, following Ryanair’s decision to cancel many thousands of flights, the UK CAA wrote to the Irish airline to clarify their legal obligations, and we sought assurances around how and when they would reroute passengers onto alternative flights. The CAA told the airline to make a corrective public statement, to ensure customers were not misled and had accurate comprehensive information relating to their rights and entitlements.”

The statement adds: “Today, in announcing thousands more cancellations to its scheduled programme, the airline has again failed to provide customers with the necessary and accurate information relating to their passenger rights, particularly around rerouting and care and assistance entitlements, which includes expenses.”

In fact, the CAA have published a full letter of their grievances which can be found here.

Andrew Haines, Chief Executive of the CAA, has said: “There are clear laws in place, which are intended to assist passengers in the event of a cancellation, helping minimise both the frustration and inconvenience caused by circumstances completely out of their control. We have made this crystal clear to Ryanair, who are well aware of their legal obligations, which includes how and when they should reroute passengers, along with the level of information it provides its passengers.  The information Ryanair published today again fails to makes this clear. In expediting our enforcement action we are seeking to ensure that Ryanair’s customers will receive the correct and necessary information, to make an informed choice about an alternative flight.”

The statement concludes by saying that the “the CAA may seek legal undertakings from operators to ensure they change their policies and comply with the law. Should an airline refuse to engage/agree to change their policies and comply with the regulations, the next step would be to start legal proceedings (court action) pursuant to Part 8 of the Enterprise Act, for non-compliance of EC261/2004.”

Since this statement was released by the CAA, Ryanair have replied by saying: “We will be meeting with the CAA and will comply fully with whatever requirements they ask us to.”