As part of its on-going campaign to safeguard the rights of air passengers, the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has launched enforcement action against Ryanair.
This action follows a review by the regulator that found Ryanair is not complying fully with European consumer law designed to support passengers following flight disruption. Ryanair is now required to make policy changes or face the prospect of further enforcement steps leading to court action, if the airline remains non-compliant.
This is the latest phase of enforcement activity following the CAA’s comprehensive six month review of airlines’ policies in relation to the support they offer to disrupted passengers. The review was designed to ensure that airlines comply with the European regulations, as confirmed recently by the UK courts, safeguarding passengers’ rights and providing for compensation as a result of flight disruption. The CAA investigated the largest 15 airlines operating in the UK, representing 80 percent of all passenger traffic and published its first compliance report earlier this year.
In its initial response to the CAA, Ryanair set out how it was dealing with flight delay compensation claims where delays have been caused by a routine technical fault. In addition, the airline confirmed its treatment of claims received from customers dating back up to six years from the disrupted flight.
Following a further review of the information presented to the CAA by Ryanair, as well as additional information provided following formal requests for further information and analysis of passenger complaints data, the CAA has concluded that:
It is not satisfied that Ryanair is dealing with compensation claims for disruption caused by routine technical faults in line with applicable consumer law – this is despite the UK Court of Appeal (in the case of Jet2.com v Huzar) clarifying how such claims are to be treated and assurances given to the CAA by Ryanair; and,
• Ryanair is attempting to impose a contractual two-year time limit, from the date of the flight, for passengers to issue compensation claims at court – despite previously publicly committing to a six year time limit and in spite of the UK Court of Appeal (Dawson v Thomson Airways) ruling that passengers have up to six years to issue such claims at court.
The CAA is pursuing legal action under Part 8 of the Enterprise Act 2002, mandating Ryanair to change its policies to give its passengers the support and compensation they are entitled to.
Andrew Haines, Chief Executive of the CAA, said:
“The law is clear that compensation must be paid if a flight is delayed for more than three hours by a routine technical fault. It is also clear that air passengers have up to six years to issue a compensation claim at court. This position was reaffirmed by the Court of Appeal last year.
“The CAA is committed to protecting the rights of air passengers and we are determined to ensure all airlines comply with this regulation. That is why we are announcing this latest action against Ryanair today as our recent work has shown that they are not complying with this consumer law.
“Our review of airline policies has already led to Jet2, Aer Lingus and Wizz Air changing their position. We will do everything in our power to ensure that passengers are receiving the support they need, and are legally entitled to, during and after disruption.”
The CAA is now completing its second compliance report which is reviewing a further 16 airlines’ policies and which is due to be published by the end of the year. If any of these airlines are found to be in breach of consumer law, the CAA will not hesitate to use its powers to launch further enforcement action to ensure that their passengers receive the legal rights to which they are entitled.