Ryanair takes swipe at handling of BA ‘meltdown’ amid CAA legal threat

Ryanair takes swipe at handling of BA ‘meltdown’ amid CAA legal threat

Ryanair has hit out at the way the CAA handled British Airways’ IT ‘meltdown’ earlier this year after threats of legal action against it over the cancellation of tens of thousands of flights.

The Irish carrier has said a “mess up” in its pilots’ holiday rotas led to the cancellation of more than 2,000 flights due to carry 315,000 passengers.

A further 18,000 flights between November and March – set to carry 400,000 passengers – were later cancelled due to the airline’s pilot rostering problem.

That led to the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) stepping in to demand Ryanair comply with its instructions on air passengers’ rights by 5pm on Friday September 29 or face legal action.

In a statement this afternoon, Ryanair said its representatives had met with the Irish Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR) and agreed how it would make customers aware of their EU261 rights – which includes entitlement to refunds, re-routings and out of pocket expenses.

The airline says it has now:

• Issued a clarification email to all affected customers outlining their rights to refunds, re-routing on Ryanair or on other comparable transport options and expenses.

• Issued a press release explaining to customers how and when they will be re-accommodated on other Ryanair flights or other airline flights.

• Updated its FAQ pages to reflect these changes.

Ryanair also said it has replied to the CAA’s letter, dated September 28, which threatened legal action.

And its statement continued to say: “Ryanair has called upon the UK CAA to now require UK airlines to comply with these EU261 obligations which the CAA did not apply to British Airways in May this year, when a computer meltdown stranded hundreds of thousands of British citizens/visitors at London Heathrow and many other airports, with no apparent action taken by the CAA in respect of re-accommodation or enforcement against British Airways.”

The IT ‘meltdown’ at British Airways – caused by a power failure over the late May bank holiday weekend – forced the airline to cancel more than 670 flights over two days.

CAA chief executive Andrew Haines said: “Our job is to protect passengers’ rights and ensure that all airlines operating in the UK are fully compliant with important consumer laws.

“Where we find that an airline is systematically flouting these rules, we will not hesitate to take action, to minimise the harm and detriment caused to passengers, as we have done with Ryanair in recent days.

“It appears that Ryanair has now capitulated. We will review their position in detail and monitor this situation to ensure that passengers get what they are entitled to in practice.”

He added: “We are consistent in this approach, and in the last six years the CAA has secured 22 legal undertakings from airlines and other travel companies on a range of issues to protect consumers.

“Furthermore, as part of our ongoing work to protect consumers, earlier this month we wrote to over 30 airlines seeking confirmation that they too are complying with the re-routing elements of EC261 legislation.”

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