Ryanair forced to clarify customers rights after regulator 'fury' over cancellation chaos

RyanAir planeRyanAirRyanair has cancelled hundreds of thousands of bookings.

LONDON — Ryanair was forced to email customers explaining their rights on Friday, following a “furious” rebuke from the UK airline regulator over its handling of extensive flight cancellations.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said in a letter sent to Ryanair on Wednesday CEO Michael O’Leary had made “misleading statements” over customer rights after the budget airline cancelled hundreds of thousands of bookings.

The CAA went as far as the threaten legal action if Ryanair failed to rectify the mistake. CEO Andrew Haines told the BBC the CAA was “furious” with Ryanair.

On Friday, the airline responded with a statement saying it had met with Irish Commission for Aviation Regulation and “agreed to implement a series of steps” and ensure people subject to flight cancellations “are fully aware of their… rights and entitlements.”

Ryanair said it had:

  • Sent 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 the FAQ pages of its website to reflect all those changes.

A pilot rostering error forced the company to cancel thousands of flights, a move which is likely to affect over 700,000 bookings.

The CAA’s letter, from chief executive Andrew Haines, said Ryanair compounded its mistakes when it cancelled a further 18,000 flights without informing customers that they could be re-routed with other airlines if Ryanair could not find suitable flights of its own.

Ryanair also failed to include any information about its obligation to refund additional expenses incurred as a result of the cancellation, for example, meals, hotels, and transfer costs attached to a re-routed flight, the CAA said.

The CAA had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.

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