Ryanair to Face U.K. Regulator in Court Over Strike Compensation

(Bloomberg) -- Ryanair Holdings Plc is facing legal action from Britain’s aviation regulator after the discount carrier refused to pay compensation to passengers whose flights were disrupted by strikes during the summer.

Under European Commission rules, Ryanair should have compensated customers, the Civil Aviation Authority said Wednesday in a statement, adding that it warned the carrier at the time that the events didn’t amount to extraordinary circumstances that would have exempted it from payouts.

While the CAA appealed to Ryanair to change its stance, a spokesman said the next move will be to take the airline to court to ensure its compliance. The regulator won a recent action against Emirates after the Gulf giant resisted paying compensation for onward flights from Dubai, he said.

Ryanair said in an email that courts in Germany, Spain and Italy have already ruled that compensation doesn’t apply in the event of strikes, and that it expects the CAA and British courts to “follow this precedent.”

Europe’s biggest discount carrier canceled hundreds of flights earlier this year after employees in multiple countries staged walkouts in a dispute over pay and working conditions. U.K. staff didn’t participate in the action, but flights were still disrupted by a knock-on effect.

While Ryanair allowed passengers to switch to other services or get a refund, European Union rules specify that an additional payment of 200 euros ($226) is due if a flight is delayed for three hours. That sum is considerably higher than the cost of an average ticket from the Dublin-based discounter.

The CAA said Ryanair had terminated a process under which people could escalate compensation claims to a regulated body known as AviationADR, for alternative dispute resolution. “Passengers with an existing claim will now have to await the outcome of the CAA’s enforcement action,” it said.

Ryanair is no stranger to confrontation with officialdom, paying almost $600,000 as recently as last month for the release of a Boeing Co. jet seized by French authorities in Bordeaux in a dispute over state subsidies.

Click to read Ryanair Pays 525,000 Euros for Boeing Jet Seized by France

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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