Thursday 22 August 2019

Ryanair bids to overturn ruling it must compensate passengers after strikes

Ryanair was hit by several one-day strikes. Photo: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg
Ryanair was hit by several one-day strikes. Photo: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Tim Healy

Ryanair wants the High Court to quash the aviation regulator's decision to order the airline to compensate a number of people affected by last year's strike action.

The company claims the Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR) was wrong in law to make the airline liable for payments under an EU regulation which provides compensation as a result of delayed or cancelled flights.

A passenger is entitled to a maximum of €600 for delays of three hours or more providing it qualifies under EU 261.

The airline says strikes qualify as an "extraordinary circumstance", which means compensation is not payable.

Ryanair recognised trade unions for the first time last year and experienced a number of days of industrial action, including one-day strikes by Ireland-based pilots. CAR received a number of claims for compensation under EU 261, five of which CAR determined Ryanair is liable for.

They form effective test cases for Ryanair's legal challenge, Martin Hayden SC, for the airline, told the court yesterday.

Counsel said making Ryanair liable in the circumstances of strike action completely distorts the negotiation process between the unions and airline.

It was argued that, because seven days' notice has to be given of any flight cancellations, the unions can go "down to the line" and the airline is faced with acceding to the unions' demands or cancelling flights.

Mr Justice Seamus Noonan granted Mr Hayden leave to bring judicial review proceedings and also put a stay on CAR's May 31 decision in relation to the five compensation claims pending further order or determination of the case.

He also gave CAR liberty to apply to vary the order.

The application was made on a one-side-represented-only basis and comes back to court later this year.

The judge also suggested Ryanair's solicitor should write to the five claimants notifying them of the case.

Irish Independent

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