Should budget airlines pay?

Legislation may have muddied the waters in a compensation row between airlines.

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Barcelona court rejects flight strike compensation

The Commercial Court of Barcelona has ruled that no compensation should be paid to customers whose flights are cancelled due to strike action.

The ruling declares that airlines should not have to pay out compensation under EU261 legislation because internal strike action is beyond their control.

Irish carrier Ryanair, which has been arguing that it does not have to compensate passengers affected by recent strikes across Europe, has welcomed the judgement.

The carrier claims it fully complies with EU261 rules and has re-accommodated or refunded all passengers whose flights have been cancelled as a result of the walk-outs by pilots and cabin crew in recent months.

Ryanair has said in the past the strikes are truly beyond its control, claiming they were incited by rival airline unions.

The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has called on the carrier to pay out compensation, while the European Court of Justice ruled earlier in the year that strikes cannot be considered extraordinary circumstances and therefore should be eligble for a pay-out under EU261 legislation.

Commenting on the ruling, chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs said: “We welcome this ruling by the Commercial Court of Barcelona confirming that no compensation is payable to customers when the strike delay/cancellation is beyond the airline’s control. If these strikes, by a tiny minority of Ryanair crew, were within Ryanair’s control, there would be no strikes and no cancellations.

“In recent years during which there were over 15 days of pilot and cabin crew strikes in Germany, Lufthansa was not required to pay EU261 compensation. Similarly, the UK CAA should also explain why it took no EU261 action against BA during last year’s cabin crew strikes.”

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Should budget airlines pay out?

By Jim Scott

Well-known for its cheapness and unbelievable deals to airports in the UK and abroad. EasyJet and Ryanair has become synonymous with the "budget" category of the airlines which link the UK to the rest of Europe. But at a time when frugal Britons are finding the lowest deals by any means possible. Are delays by cabin crew strikes and a piece of legislation, a valid excuse not to refund customers?

A study carried out by Which? revealed the UK’s worst airlines for delays to its flights. The Express reports, budget airlines Ryanair and EasyJet ranked fairly high in the number of delays their flights had suffered over the last year. In a study between June 2017 and June 2018, EasyJet had 2,618 delays, whilst Ryanair followed closely behind with 1,868 delays and British Airways, not considered a budget airline, suffered 1,668 delays to its flights.

But whilst airlines have their own reasons why a flight could be delayed, it would seem claiming compensation from them is an arduous task.

One EasyJet customer was allegedly given "four different reasons" as to why a flight to Italy from the UK was cancelled. Reason’s ranged from Air Traffic Controller disruption, to turbulence, lightening and air traffic disturbance. The flyer claimed EasyJet said the airline did not have to pay compensation due to the delay or cancellation being caused by an "extraordinary circumstance", the Guardian reports.

Meanwhile, according to the Money Saving Expert, Ryanair has been no different. It is reported last month that 150 Ryanair flights were cancelled because of strikes held by cabin crew at hubs in Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Spain. The strikes were called as staff demanded various "national labour" laws instead of Irish legislation, where the airline is based.

However, the airline claims “extraordinary circumstances” citing a type of loophole which airlines have been using increasingly according to the BBC.

But watchdog and aviation regulators, the Civil Aviation Authority are not prepared to let Ryanair get away with it. The Guardian reports, the CAA may take Ryanair through a legal process to try to get the airline to compensate those affected by cabin crew strikes.

In London, the City has come under fire for not holding Ryanair chief exec, Michael O’Leary to account. The Guardian explains, "almost nobody" has been asking if he is still the right person for the job. Calling him a "lucky man" the article claims the airline has "provoked" the fury of the CAA.

EU law currently protects consumers if their airline cancels or delays a flight more than three hours because of strikes on its own airline. Under EU261, a piece of legislation which in theory should allow Ryanair and EasyJet customers redress, Ryanair argues it does not apply because the strikes were by a "minority of Ryanair Crew". Meanwhile O’Leary had previously called the legislation "ridiculous".

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