Passengers whose Ryanair flights were cancelled or delayed because of a strike in 2018 can now claim compensation because the airline has dropped its appeal against a court ruling.
The budget carrier had refused to pay compensation to passengers affected by industrial action taken by its pilots in 2018, saying the delayed and cancelled flights were “extraordinary circumstances”.
In January 2022, following action by the UK Civil Aviation Authority against Ryanair, the Court of Appeal decided that strike action by airline staff was not an “extraordinary circumstance”.
The CAA said on Monday (December 12): “Following that judgment, Ryanair secured permission to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.
“It has now decided not to pursue this appeal and to provide compensation to passengers who were disrupted by the strike action taken by Ryanair pilots in 2018 in line with the passenger entitlements set out under UK (EC) Regulation 261/2004.”
Paul Smith, CAA consumer director, said: “The Civil Aviation Authority undertook enforcement action against Ryanair due to the belief that strike action by airline staff does not constitute an ‘extraordinary circumstance’ and, as such, affected passengers should be entitled to compensation where this results in the delay or short notice cancellation of their flight. The judgment by the Court of Appeal supported this view.
“Ryanair’s decision to discontinue the Supreme Court appeal of the Court of Appeal judgment means that affected passengers will now be able to make a claim for compensation from Ryanair if they were impacted by strike action taken by Ryanair pilots in 2018 and we would encourage all passengers on flights that were affected to claim the compensation they are entitled to.”
In a statement, the airline said: “The UK Civil Aviation Authority and Ryanair reached a settlement on 30 November 2022 to end a legal dispute concerning passenger rights arising from flight cancellations caused by union-led strikes in the summer of 2018.
“The resolution reached between Ryanair and the CAA is consistent with a recent ruling of the Court of Justice of the EU on union-led strikes, ensuring a uniform level of passenger rights across the EU and the UK.”
Rocio Concha, Which? director of policy and advocacy, said: “Thousands of Ryanair customers whose flights were delayed or cancelled as a result of staff strike action in 2018 have faced a protracted wait for the compensation they are owed, with the airline fighting the CAA to avoid its legal responsibilities to passengers every step of the way.
“Now that Ryanair has decided to drop its Supreme Court appeal and pay out, anyone impacted in 2018 should make a claim, and Ryanair must ensure money owed reaches affected passengers as soon as possible.
“No traveller should have to wait years for the compensation they are legally entitled to, and this episode underlines current weaknesses in the CAA’s powers, as they are reliant on lengthy court action.
“The government must urgently set out plans for strengthening the aviation regulator’s powers so it can hold airlines accountable when they flout the law.
“Without decisive action, airlines will continue to be emboldened to mistreat passengers and neglect their legal responsibilities.”