Ryanair bows to demands of Civil Aviation Authority over passenger compensation

Ryanair has complied with regulator demands and updated its website to explain how it will re-route customers.

The airline says it has emailed all of its customers who were affected by its 2,100 flight cancellations.

On its site it acknowledges it is required to offer customers on cancelled flights a full refund option.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ordered Ryanair to put the information on its site before 5pm on Friday or face possible action.

On Wednesday, the CAA published a letter inviting Ryanair to attend a meeting or take part in a conference call to explain how it will stop breaching consumer law by not fully informing passengers of their rights.

The regulator issued a statement which said: “As part of our enforcement action we have requested a meeting with Ryanair to discuss our ongoing concerns around passenger rights.

“As yet we have received no response to this request, nor has Ryanair proposed any other meetings, whether in person or via telephone.”

Speaking before the CAA published its latest statement, a Ryanair spokesman said: “We will be meeting with the CAA and will comply fully with whatever requirements they ask us to.”

The CAA has instructed the budget airline to tell passengers they are entitled to be re-routed by another carrier, and explain how that will work.

Ryanair must also publicly state it will reimburse expenses for affected customers, according to the CAA.

In addition, Ryanair must commit to helping passengers who chose an unsuitable option as a result of being misled.

It comes after the regulator accused the airline of “not complying with the law” over its handling of the fiasco.

CAA chief executive Andrew Haines said he was “furious” after Ryanair cancelled an extra 18,000 flights for the winter season on Wednesday – a move that will hit 400,000 customers.

A Ryanair internal memo allegedly instructed call centre staff to offer flights with other carriers – provided the price “does not exceed three times the value of the original Ryanair fare”.

The document, unearthed by ITV News, was criticised by consumer group Which?

Managing director Alex Neill said: “Ryanair appears to be plucking figures out of thin air as there is no legal basis for the arbitrary figure they’ve set.

“The law says passengers must be rerouted and there’s no specified limit on cost. This yet again highlights the importance of the action which the Civil Aviation Authority has started.

“It must force Ryanair to immediately change its behaviour and comply with the law.”

The latest round of cancellations includes several popular routes used by British travellers, such as Stansted to Edinburgh and Glasgow, Gatwick to Belfast, Newcastle to Faro, and Glasgow to Las Palmas.

It adds to mounting anger against Ryanair, which was already coming under heavy fire after cancelling up to 50 flights a day earlier this month.

Dr Neil Robinson, tourism expert from the University of Salford Business School, said Ryanair’s troubles highlighted issues with the way the budget airline business model worked.

He said: “Michael O’Leary and his troubled Ryanair enterprise has lurched from one trouble to another over the last week.

“It was only a few days ago that Mr O’Leary went on camera and assured the traveling public that all was well and that he would ensure that any problems caused to his customers by the pilot roster error would be dealt with appropriately by compensation, alternative flight provision or money back.

“Fast forward to today and the Ryanair brand appears damaged and slightly soiled, not so much as a result of the many flight cancellations, but the manner by which Mr O’Leary appears to have gone back on some of his promises.

“Enter the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) which has now tasked Mr O’Leary to ensure that he is playing by the rules and compensating/providing alternative travel arrangements to his disgruntled customer base.

“A word of caution to Ryanair, while many aviation travel brands such as BA, Malaysian Airlines and Germanwings have suffered from adverse publicity in the past, what is at stake here is brand reliability and reputation, the secret is to under promise and over deliver, not to promise the earth and then deliver very little.

“Whilst many aviation business models are sufficiently robust to deal with problems, one could argue that the budget airline business model works well when all is running smoothly, but when a problem develops, the model lacks strength and often shows signs of strain.

“My advice to Mr O’Leary, please remember the 5P’s, prior preparation prevents poor performance.”

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