With the recent ruling from the European Court of Justice that states that passengers can claim up to €600 in compensation for delays due to “technical reasons”, UK’s Civil Aviation Authority has commenced an enforcement action against budget airline, Ryanair. According to the CAA, Ryanair owes compensation to thousands of passengers who have been affected due to their flight delays. Flybe, Jet2, Thomas Cook, and Wizz Air are some of the other airlines, apart from Ryanair, who were out on hold waiting for the result of the EU court ruling.
Once the court ruling was made known, the UK CAA spoke about the fact that they have been reviewing Ryanair’s compliance to the EU261 legislation and said that they were not satisfied with what they found. It was found that the airline had not been handling its compensation claims in a satisfactory manner especially the ones that involved routine technical faults. The action taken against Ryanair by the CAA is necessary to protect the rights of the UK passengers. It also issued a warning to Ryanair that if it did not make the required changes to its policies then it stood a chance of facing court action.
The EU261 Regulation
The EU261 regulation, more popularly known as the Flight Delay Compensation regulation, lays down common rules that airlines need to follow with respect to compensation to passengers in the event of flight delays, cancellations, and denied boarding. The ruling that was passed this Thursday concerned a delayed KLM flight from Quito, Ecuador to Amsterdam, in 2009, that was delayed by 29 hours. The case was filed by plaintiff Corina van der Lans, whose compensation claim was rejected by KLM on grounds of “technical issues”.
The regulation now extends to all airlines operating within EU and will take a retrospective effect. This makes airlines responsible to pay out the compensation claims that they had been withholding in the name of “technical issues.” Ryanair itself faces a multitude of compensation claims apart from the enforcement action from the CAA.
Ryanair’s response to the CAA orders
Ryanair stated that it duly noted the ruling in the KLM case and would continue to comply with the EU261 regulation. It mentioned that since KLM complies with the legislation, the ruling is going to have less effect on it. About the CAA order, the airline stated that it is unsure as to why it is being threatened by the enforcement action when it is in full compliance with the regulation.
The response, however, throws light on the fact that passengers will still have to put up a battle in order to get their compensation claims. With the law on their side passengers do have a better chance at getting the compensation due to them. Airlines might now cite “bad weather conditions” or “hidden manufacturing defect” as reasons to legally sidestep the claims. However, most of the times during court trials; airlines are unable to prove these reasons. By bringing these cases to the court, passengers can increase the probability of winning compensation claims.