Ryanair boss says he will defy compensation rules
Published 21/04/2010 | 16:14
Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary today said he would wait for his day in court after insisting his airline will defy rules on full compensation for stranded passengers.
The budget carrier warned customers it will not be held liable for their hotel and restaurant bills after state agencies across Europe shut down airspace for six days.
Mr O'Leary said Ryanair would reimburse travellers the original price of their air fare and no more - a blatant refusal to abide by strict EU consumer rules.
"There's no legislation designed that says any airline getting a fare of €30 should be reimbursing passengers many thousands of euro for hotel accommodation. It's absurd," the airline chief said.
Mr O'Leary, who met authorities in Dublin as the travel crisis began to ease, said he will see the Commission for Aviation Regulation in court.
Both the regulator and consumer chiefs urged disgruntled passengers to press for their expenses to be covered.
And the the Government's emergency taskforce also intervened after meeting airline chiefs and warning that if people are unhappy with compensation, state bodies will fight their cases.
Ryanair carries on average 220,000 passengers on flights across Europe every day, but Mr O'Leary said he was not able to estimate how many of his customers had been left stranded.
It has cancelled all flights between Ireland and the UK until Friday to divert planes to cover more in-demand airports across Europe.
He said consumer travel rules for airlines should be updated to put planes on an equal footing with bus, train and ferry operators with the carrier only liable for the original cost of a fare.
Mr O'Leary said blame for the chaos caused by Europe-wide shutdown lay at the door of governments.
He said he accepted airports had to be closed for the first couple of days but after meeting with manufacturers and regulators he questioned whether the near week-long blanket ban was necessary.
"I don't have a problem with everything being grounded for a day or two but there should have been a much faster response by the governments and transport ministers and by the regulators," he said.
"This is one of these issues we want addressed - why exactly are the airlines expected to be reimbursing people's hotels, meals and everything else when the governments are the ones who made a balls of this?"
Ryanair insisted it was not making the case for a bail-out or state aid to cover passengers expenses.