UK Air Regulator (CAA) Not Satisfied With Ryanair’s Handling Of Cancellations

Rynair has announced two major waves of flight cancellations over the past two weeks (read more here and here) affecting hundreds of thousands of passengers due to improperly accounting for mandatory pilot vacations.

Ryanair CAA

Now, the UK regulator (CAA) is not satisfied with the guidance the airline has given to affected passengers basically blaming Ryanair trying to skirt its legal obligations per EC 261/2004 when it comes to rerouting affected passengers to other airlines or rail at their (Ryanair’s) expense.

Here’s the announcement from CAA:

The CAA has today launched enforcement action against Ryanair for persistently misleading passengers with inaccurate information regarding their rights in respect of its recent cancellations.

Earlier this month, following Ryanair’s decision to cancel many thousands of flights, the UK CAA wrote to the Irish airline to clarify their legal obligations, and we sought assurances around how and when they would reroute passengers onto alternative flights.

The CAA told the airline to make a corrective public statement, to ensure customers were not misled and had accurate comprehensive information relating to their rights and entitlements.

Today, in announcing thousands more cancellations to its scheduled programme, the airline has again failed to provide customers with the necessary and accurate information relating to their passenger rights, particularly around rerouting and care and assistance entitlements, which includes expenses.

We have now told Ryanair that we are expediting enforcement action against them.

Read the CAA Letter

CAA follow up letter to Ryanair (28 September) 

Separately, we are continuing to investigate the airline’s rerouting policy.

Commenting on the enforcement action, the Civil Aviation Authority’s Chief Executive, Andrew Haines, said:

“There are clear laws in place, which are intended to assist passengers in the event of a cancellation, helping minimise both the frustration and inconvenience caused by circumstances completely out of their control.

We have made this crystal clear to Ryanair, who are well aware of their legal obligations, which includes how and when they should reroute passengers, along with the level of information it provides its passengers.  The information Ryanair published today again fails to makes this clear.

In expediting our enforcement action we are seeking to ensure that Ryanair’s customers will receive the correct and necessary information, to make an informed choice about an alternative flight.”

Enforcement action

In accordance with Part 8 of the Enterprise Act 2002, and during our consultation with the airlines, the CAA may seek legal undertakings from operators to ensure they change their policies and comply with the law.

Should an airline refuse to engage/agree to change their policies and comply with the regulations, the next step would be to start legal proceedings (court action) pursuant to Part 8 of the Enterprise Act, for non-compliance of EC261/2004.

Here’s the CAA letter to Ryanair dated September 27:

Download (PDF, 159KB)

Here’s the CAA letter to Ryanair dated September 28:

Download (PDF, 628KB)

Conclusion

You rarely see these regulators taking such an action against an airline and making it public at the same time.

Europeans should be glad that there is the EC 261/2004 in place that give passengers rights when it comes to delays and cancellations, although sometimes you have to “fight” to get these airlines to make it right (see the Finnair case earlier today).

Let’s hope that merely CAA making their views public will adjust Ryanair’s behavior and compensation and rebooking options when other airlines provide better options for affected passengers.

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