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Ryanair loses high court battle with CAA over strike compensation

Ryanair Boeing 737-800 at Bristol Airport (Image: TransportMedia UK)

Ryanair Boeing 737-800 at Bristol Airport (Image: TransportMedia UK)

The High Court of England and Wales has ruled that Irish budget airline Ryanair (FR/RYR) should compensate passengers whose flights were disrupted as a result of the 2018 strike by Ryanair pilots.

The airline had argued that the strikes were exceptional circumstances and beyond their control so it shouldn’t have to compensate passengers under EU261.

EU261 says that a passenger must be compensated by the airline if their flight is delayed for more than 3 hours or they are denied boarding due to a cancellation except in exceptional circumstances such as extreme weather or terrorist event.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which regulates UK air travel did not agree with Ryanair interpretation though and ordered the airline to pay the compensation of face legal action.

Ryanair CEO (at the time) Michael O’Leary said about the CAA’s actions: “There’s an enormous can of worms being opened up here by a bunch of lazy regulators at the CAA”.

Ryanair refused to comply and the case was taken to the High court by the CAA where the judges agreed with the CAA.

In a statement, Paul Smith, Director of the CAA, said: “We believed that these passengers were in fact protected by law and that Ryanair could not claim its delayed and cancelled flights were ‘extraordinary circumstances’. The High Court has today agreed with our interpretation of the law. 

“We are committed to protecting the rights of air passengers and are determined to ensure all airlines comply with their legal obligations.”

Passengers are still unlikely to get their compensation anytime soon though, Ryanair has not yet commented on the ruling and it does have the right to appeal.

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