Published on Friday, February 1, 2013

Ryanair ordered to compensate ash cloud passenger

Ryanair has warned air fares will have to rise to cover the cost of compensating passengers whose flights were grounded due to the ash cloud in 2010.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) yesterday ordered Ryanair to compensate passenger Denise McDonagh, who was forced to wait seven days for a flight from Faro to Dublin,a delay during which she spent nearly £1000 on accommodation, food and transport.

Her compensation will be decided by the Irish courts. Her case had been referred to the ECJ by the Dublin Metropolitan District Court, which had sought clarification of EU law.

The ECJ said Ms McDonagh was entitled to "reimbursement of the amounts which proved necessary, appropriate and reasonable to make up for the shortcomings of the air carrier".

Ryanair had attempted to avoid covering the costs of passengers affected by the ash cloud by arguing that the eruption of Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano was so extraordinary that normal rules relating to cancelled flights should not apply.

However, the judges' ruling - which will be binding across the EU - said that in such circumstances airlines had a duty to look after their passengers.

The EU regulation on passenger rights "does not provide for any limitation, either temporal or monetary, of the obligation to provide care to passengers whose flight is cancelled due to extraordinary circumstances", the ECJ said.

"Thus, all the obligations to provide care to passengers are imposed on the air carrier for the whole period during which the passengers concerned must await their re-routing."

In a statement, Ryanair said the ruling would lead to significantly higher fares for all passengers. In a statement it said: "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."

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  • Europen Court of jUSTICE IS A JOKE

    What a joke ? Ryanair will surely appeal & win. You cn't tall an airline they can't fly & then say they have to compensate pax for not flying. How do these judges get their jobs ? Win them in a corn flakes packet ?

    By Michael Anderson, Monday, February 4, 2013

  • The Law is an ass

    I dislike Ryanair intensely, but have to agree with them on this one. Why should any airline have unlimited liability to compensate passengers delayed due to the actions of a higher authority? Carriers did not have the option of flying through closed airspace. Therefore EC governments should themselves compensate delayed passengers. It was sensible to close airspace given pervious ash/jet engine problems, but resultant delays were out of the control of carriers. YET ANOTHER example of the Law being an ASS? If governments want to wriggle out of their moral responsibility, the EC have forced pension and insurance providers to go against their business judgement to equal male/female rates, so why don't they force travel insurers to cover such risks? Higher travel premiums of course, but that has happened with the other changes to insurance and pension provision.

    By Colin Luke, Friday, February 1, 2013

  • I disagree with the ruling

    To me, this is why travel insurance is sold to protect both the carrier and the passenger from unforeseen cancellations. The carrier cannot be held responsible for weather delays or cancellations or any such delays and cancellations outside of their control. It is down to the traveller to protect themselves and the only way is to purchase travel insurance.

    By Jennifer Kempa, Friday, February 1, 2013

  • hard cheese?

    sorry Ryanair but i think the ECJ have made the correct interpretation of their ruling. It also makes it much simpler for any client affected by such cancellations to be sure of where their costs will be met, and that ALL clients, regardless of which insurer pays and which doesn't, obtain adequate compensation. It's a result for common sense and the common man. If the airline didn't pay, then travel insurers should, which would put up insurance prems, so I'm not sure how Ryanair think passengers will lose out financially. Of course Ryanair themselves will, as will all airlines, as they will have to administrate it. But as they say, it won't hit their (large) profits as they intend to pass it on in full anyway to future victims (sorry i meant to say 'customers') of Ryanair. An interesting interpretation of this ruling may be how the US authorities similarly deal with the case of the obese lady (if you remember it) who died when the airline failed to get her back to the US for treatment. did the airline have a duty to provide care for the whole period where a flight was not available to the client until a flight became available to take? (though not a cancellation in the sense of the whole aircraft not going, but not being made available to her to travel due to exceptional circumstances)

    By derek small, Friday, February 1, 2013

  • If you believe this!!

    Ryanair will charge as much or as less as the market will bear, irrespective of ash clouds etc. Profitability is not an isuue, just how much profit.

    By Philip Scully, Friday, February 1, 2013

  • Crazy rules

    I'm no great fan of Ryanair but they are absolutely right on this. Why are airlines responsible for acts of god? The train and bus companies are not held responsible, you can't sue the Highways dept if a road is closed because of snow. The European laws on this are ludicrus and the salt in the wounds are that the travel insurance companies, (who exist solely to protect you financially on your travels), have said, 'no no, nothing to do with us, this is an act of god so we won't pay out', why has the ECJ not dealt with that 'abuse?' When exactly did the airlines suddenly become insurance companies too? When you travel, to take your chances like with everything else in life! You can pay £100 for a plane ticket and then claim unlimited thousands from that airline for an act of god, it's obscene. Thanks to the compo brigade who always have to blame someone else, we'll all be paying more to fly in future.

    By Keith Standen, Friday, February 1, 2013

  • Is Ryanair really accountable

    While I agree that someone has to help people who are stranded in a foreign country, should it really be Ryanair? I have to agree with MOL that it was the Government which grounded planes as a precautionary measure. Shouldn't the Government take responsibility for their citizens instead of throwing all the weight on Ryanair? Insurance companies (both Ryanair's insurer and individual travel insurance) blamed the 'Act of God'. If insurance companies don't think this is something they can account for, why should Ryanair? "air fares will have to rise to cover the cost of compensating passengers" ... didn't Ryanair ALREADY add a €2 levy in March 2011 in order to cover the cost they may incur for having to compensate passengers due to delayed/cancelled flights? I couldn't see this fee in their fee table on their website, but no doubt it has been absorbed in the ticket price since. Martino Matijevic Founder & CEO Flight Search

    By Martino Matijevic, Friday, February 1, 2013

  • Suppliers should take responsibility

    I believe that businesses should take responsibility for the goods and services that they provide. Thus supermarkets should take responsibility for the beefburgers they sell (as they now have) even if depending on outside suppliers. Airlines should be no different. If their suppliers are inefficient or overpriced (and airlines do have to deal with monopoly suppliers such as air traffic control) then they should push for greater efficiency, not take it out on the passenger when they are unable to deliver the service that they have advertised. If such efficiencies are achieved then any extra cost that airlines need to charge their passengers as a result of this ruling should be very modest, rather than 'significantly higher' as Ryanair claims.

    By Bennett Oliver, Friday, February 1, 2013

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