Tuesday 26 September 2017

Cancelled flights could cost Ryanair millions in compensation

APOLOGY: Robin Kiely said less than 2pc of flights would be hit
APOLOGY: Robin Kiely said less than 2pc of flights would be hit
Mark O'Regan

Mark O'Regan

Ryanair faces the threat of a massive compensation bill following its shock decision to cancel up to 50 flights a day for the next six weeks.

The budget airline announced on Friday that it would cancel between 40 and 50 flights daily up until October, as it moves to reduce a backlog of holidays for staff.

Their website has detailed all the flights which are cancelled for today, with eight flights to and from Dublin included in the list.

Flights from Dublin to Amsterdam, Nantes, Frankfurt and Santander are among those cancelled.

The Dublin-based carrier insists it will offer refunds or alternative flight options to the "small number" of affected passengers. However, it is believed the move could affect up to 250,000 passengers.

Under EU law, thousands of passengers may be entitled to €250 compensation if the distance of their cancelled flight was 1,500km or less.

The Commission for Aviation Regulation stressed that affected passengers should be aware of their rights.

It said compensation in the event of a cancellation depended on the distance of the flight, and the reason for the cancellation.

It also depends on the 'notice period' given by the airline. If a carrier can prove that the cancellation was caused by an extraordinary circumstance, which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures were taken, no compensation is payable.

Examples of extraordinary circumstances may include weather conditions, air traffic control restrictions, security risks and industrial disputes that affect the operation of a schedule.

The Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) said it was deeply concerned over the cancellations at such short notice.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent, ITAA president Cormac Meehan said the compensation bill was likely to run into millions of euro.

He said that given the dominant position of Ryanair in the Irish aviation market, the move would cause "severe problems" for thousands of passengers.

"For many, holiday plans have been ruined by this action where the option to change accommodation is not possible, or can only be done at a significant cost," he said.

"Ryanair's actions will also have a considerable impact on route schedules internationally, where many travellers are dependent on their Ryanair flight to connect to onward international flights.

The airline insisted that less than 2pc of its flights would be cancelled and the move would help it hit its annual punctuality target of 90pc.

It is advising customers that their flights will operate as scheduled unless they receive a cancellation email.

Ryanair's Robin Kiely said: "By cancelling less than 2pc of our flying programme over the next six weeks - until our winter schedule starts in early November - we can improve the operational resilience of our schedules, and restore punctuality to our annualised target of 90pc.

"We apologise sincerely to the small number of customers affected by these cancellations, and will be doing our utmost to arrange alternative flights and/or full refunds."

Sunday Independent

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