Ryanair may face new compensation claims after UK court ruling
Ryanair could be forced to pay out millions of euro in compensation after it lost a court case regarding how long passengers could wait before they claimed payment due to disrupted flights.
The landmark court judgment ruled the airline cannot limit the time allowed to claim compensation for flight delays.
Lawyers had claimed the Irish carrier could be liable for payouts of around £610m (€848m) after the firm lost a test case at Manchester County Court. The airline dismissed the estimated payout figure as "absurd", saying the maximum potential payouts would be less than €5m.
"Firstly, since less than 1pc of Ryanair flights are delayed over three hours and since more than 90pc of passengers make a valid claim within Ryanair's contractual two-year period, there is a tiny potential group of passengers who may wish to submit a claim between two and six years after the date of their flight delay," a spokesman said.
"Accordingly, Ryanair estimates that even if its appeal in this matter is ultimately unsuccessful, its potential liability will not be material and is likely to be less than €5m."
The airline had argued claims for delays could be limited to two years under a clause in its terms and conditions - not six years, as is the rule under EU law. The case was brought by lawyers for six delayed passengers who tried to claim compensation for delayed flights after five years and eight months, which Ryanair contested.
After a long-running legal battle, Judge Platts ruled Ryanair's rules fall foul of European Flight Delay law. Ryanair said it will appeal the decision.
Lawyers say the ruling in the case, Goel & Trivedi v Ryanair, stands to affect millions of passengers. They say if Ryanair had won, all airlines might have been able to put a two-year time bar on all existing and future flight delay claims.
In a statement, Ryanair said: "We note this ruling which reverses Lower Court orders that a two-year time limit for claims is reasonable.
"Since we believe a six-year time limit for submitting such claims is both unnecessary and unreasonable, we have instructed our lawyers to immediately appeal this ruling."
Regulation EC 261/2004 entitles passengers to claim compensation of up to €600 per person for delays of three hours or more, as long as the delay was not caused by "extraordinary circumstances". (Additional reporting PA)