In Depth

Ryanair cancels more flights: what are your rights?

Affected passengers may be entitled to compensation under EU law

Ryanair has cancelled 190 of its scheduled flights this Friday, with the carrier blaming strikes by cabin crew based in Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Portugal, Italy and Germany.

The Irish airline has not published a list of the axed services - which account for about 8% of the total 2,400 flights that were due to take off -  but said that all 30,000 affected passengers had been notified by text and email. The cancellations “include flights into and out of the UK”, says The Guardian.

The long-running industrial action by Ryanair staff centres on working conditions, with workers based in countries other than Ireland “unhappy that Ryanair has been employing them under Irish legislation”, says the BBC.

Staff claim “this creates significant insecurity for them, blocking their access to state benefits in their home country”, the news site adds.

Ryanair said it that “sincerely regrets these unnecessary customer disruptions”, which it blamed on agitation from staff at rival airlines.

How will you know if you’re affected?

Anyone who has booked a Ryanair flight on Friday 28 September is advised to check their inbox and mobile phone to see if their flight is among those cancelled.

What are your rights if your flight is cancelled?

Under EU law, if your flight is cancelled you are entitled to an alternative flight or a refund - regardless of what has caused the issues. For these rules to apply, the flight must have been scheduled to leave from an EU airport, or to arrive at an EU airport on an EU airline.

Are you legally entitled to anything else?

Airlines that cancel flights are obliged to provide replacement flights, accommodation and meals.

If you’re stuck at the airport, Ryanair “should provide food and drink (or vouchers to buy them) if you’re delayed more than two hours on a short-haul flight or three hours on medium haul”, says MoneySavingExpert.

If delayed overnight, “you’re entitled to a hotel, and Ryanair must also provide transport to and from it”, adds the website.

Can you get compensation?

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) issued a statement earlier this year urging passengers affected by Ryanair strikes to claim their entitlement under European air passengers’ rights rules - known as EU261.

Compensation is “set at €250 (£223) for flights of up to 1,500km (930 miles), and €400 (£357) for longer flights in Europe and North Africa”, reports The Independent.

If you are affected by Friday’s cancellations and think you may be owed compensation, you should try to claim from Ryanair in the first instance.

But will Ryanair pay out?

Ryanair has repeatedly said that it would reject any compensation claims. The airline insisted that “fully complies with all EU261 legislation” but added that “as these flight cancellations were caused by extraordinary circumstances, no compensation is due”.

“Under EU261 legislation, no compensation is payable when the union is acting unreasonably and totally beyond the airline’s control,” a spokesperson said.

The airline maintains that strikes qualify as “extraordinary circumstances” and therefore are exempt from the EU compensation rules.

AviationADR, which handles airline disputes on behalf of passengers, “refutes this claim, and in previous disputes about cancellations owing to internal strikes has found in favour of consumers”, says The Guardian.

A report published by Which? last month says: “Passengers who have a flight cancelled with less than 15 days’ notice as a result of flight or cabin crew industrial action should complain to the airline first. If they do not receive a satisfactory response, they have little choice but to use AviationADR. Unlike with the claims solicitors, the process is free and Ryanair is legally obliged to comply with its decisions.”

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