Ryanair is introducing a €2 charge per passenger for all bookings made from Monday (April 4) to cover the cost of cancellations and delays "outside of its control".
The airline said the extra revenue will help it cover the extra €100 million costs it has suffered due to 15,000 flight cancellations and the subsequent compensation and legal expenses arising from a series of events.
These include the Icelandic volcano airspace closures, the snow closures of many EU airports last winter and over 15 days of national ATC summer strikes, primarily in Belgium, France, Germany and Spain.
The controversial airline said EU261 regulations, which leave airlines responsible for refunds, meals, hotels and phone calls during such events, was "unfair and discriminatory".
It said these expenses "cannot be loaded onto airlines without being passed on to passengers".
But it promised to reduce or drop the charge if the EU261 regulations are reformed, to include an effective right of recovery clause and a non discriminatory "force majeure" clause.
Ryanair"s Stephen McNamara said: "When the EU261 regulations were first introduced, airlines were assured that they could recover the cost of these cancellations and delays from those parties who caused them.
"However the airlines have no right of recovery from Governments (when they close airspace), ATC unions (when they repeatedly walk off the job), or airports (who can"t even clear snow off their runways).
"It"s a crazy situation that travel insurance companies paid out nothing during the volcanic ash crisis last year (because it was an "Act of God"), yet the airlines were forced to pick up weeks of delays, cancellations, hotel and restaurant costs.
"While we regret the imposition of this €2 EU261 levy, the extraordinary costs which have been imposed on us by delays and cancellations under these discriminatory regulations must be recovered from passengers."
By Bev Fearis
Thursday, March 31, 2011