German passenger rights company Flightright is taking Ryanair to court over whether it should pay financial compensation to passengers affected by the recent pilot strikes in five European countries, including Germany.
Ryanair cancelled 1 in 6 flights on Friday due to a walk-out by pilots disrupting an estimated 55,000 travellers. The worst affected country was Germany, where 250 flights were cancelled affecting 42,000 passengers.
EU261 Regulation states that passengers can claim monetary compensation of 250 to 400 euros for cancelled or delayed flights, unless the reason is extraordinary circumstances, such as bad weather or ATC strikes.
Strikes have generally fallen under extraordinary circumstances, but a ruling by the European Court of Justice in April said that a wildcat strike by staff at German airline TUIfly following a restructuring could not be classed as extraordinary circumstances.
Flightright said it believes Ryanair was hit by a strike of its own personnel that could be avoided and is therefore obliged to pay compensation to its affected customers. It has thus filed a complaint with a court in Frankfurt in a bid to clarify the rules around strikes.
Ryanair spokesman said it fully complies with the European legislation: “Under EU261, no compensation is payable when the union is acting unreasonably and totally beyond the airline’s control. If this was within our control, there would be no cancellations.”
Flightright, like other passenger rights groups, helps passengers to claim compensation from airlines under EU261 rules in exchange for a 25 to 30% share of the compensation received.
Ryanair, therefore, urges passengers to file claims with them directly. “Ryanair deals with each claim on a case-by-case basis and requires our customers to submit flight disruption claims directly to Ryanair. We do this solely to ensure that all Ryanair customers will receive 100pc of their EU261 compensation.”
But what if Ryanair says beforehand that it will not pay compensation?
In Belgium, the consumer union Test Achats/Aankoop has introduced a claim against Ryanair on behalf of 50 passengers among its members affected by the cabin crew and pilot strikes, with more dossiers to follow.
Source: The Independent & Reuters