O’Leary dismisses £610m Ryanair compensation claim as 'trot'

O’Leary dismisses £610m Ryanair compensation claim as 'trot'

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has labelled claims the airline could have to pay £610 million in potential compensation as “trot”.

It emerged on Friday that the low-cost carrier is to launch an appeal after a judge at Manchester County Court ruled against it in a test case which may have a significant impact for airlines.

Judge Platts ruled that Ryanair was not able to limit the amount of time passengers have to claim flight delay compensation.

O’Leary countered claims about how much the airline could be liable for as a result of the judgement.

Asked what the impact should the airline lose its compensation appeal, O’Leary said: “I suspect it would cost us something in the order of about €850, not millions.

“I have never seen such trot.”

The budget carrier had argued that a clause in its terms and conditions meant that passengers agreed to a limit of two years on taking a claim to court, four years less than a Supreme Court judgment which said customers could bring a compensation claim within a six-year window.

Bott & Co, the solicitors that took the case to court on behalf of clients Goel & Trivedi, claim that the result of the case will set a precedent for all other flight compensation claims in England and Wales.

The firm said that although no other airlines are currently running the two year limitation argument, the majority have a similar clause in their terms and conditions stating that passengers only have two years to issue court proceedings.

O’Leary continued: “Here’s the reality – all Ryanair passengers at the moment are entitled to claim compensation if there are flight delays, up to a two-year period.

“Our best calculation is that if every single passenger who didn’t claim within two years and claimed within six years – over a four year period – it might cost us something in the order of about £4.5 million.

“The likely claims would be less than about £1,000.

“The only issue here is do we really have to have six years. We don’t even keep records for six years, after two years we throw them out.”

O’Leary continued: “We have a policy of always appealing cases, especially when they are taken by compensation-chasing lawyers.

“There is no exposure to Ryanair or any other airline in extending the claim period from two to six years, it’s just bloody inconvenient, and 99.9% of passengers who are going to make a claim will do so within two weeks, not two years.

“We don’t even need to set aside £1,000 – the number will be entirely immaterial – yet as I Googled ‘Ryanair news’ this morning, there were 138 different articles saying ‘Ryanair to settle millions, billions’, ‘about time Ryanair started paying compensation’.

“Ryanair has been paying compensation for 20 years. All we ask, and you agree to this, is that you make the claim within two years.

“I think most people would accept that no matter how irate a passenger might be after being inconvenienced by a delay, they probably calm down enough within two years in order to make the claim. They really don’t need years three, four, five and six.”

Flight delay lawyer Kevin Clarke, who acted on behalf of Goel & Trivedi, said last week: “We are delighted that the court has dismissed yet another argument put forward by the airlines to restrict passenger rights.

“The last 12 months have seen a series of landmark judgments obtained by Bott & Co on behalf of millions of passengers and this is as important as any of those that precede it.

“The Supreme Court decision last year said passengers have six years to bring a claim. That is a definitive, binding, clear judgment from the highest court in England and Wales.

“This should have concluded matters but unfortunately Ryanair has been able to tweak the argument; we found ourselves running a complicated court case arguing the fine points of contract law.”

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