Faced with a strike by its pilots in five European countries, the airline Ryanair announced Friday that it would not compensate its passengers for damages, apart from the reimbursement of the ticket.
This compensation, generally between € 250 and € 600 depending on the distance of the flight, is provided for in Article 12 of European Regulation No 261/2004, which governs the rights of air passengers, “except where the cancellation is due to extraordinary circumstances that could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken. ”
But the Irish company believes that this strike is an exceptional circumstance: “Ryanair fully complies with the law, but, as these flight cancellations are extraordinary circumstances, no compensation is due, explained CEO Michael O ‘ Leary. Under the law, no compensation is payable when the union acts unreasonably and totally outside the control of the airline. If this were under our control, there would be no cancellations.”
This is not the opinion of the Court of Justice of the European Union, which decided, on April 17, in a case of wildcat strike that had affected the German airline TUIfly. It ruled that a “wildcat strike” by aircrew following the “surprise announcement” of a restructuring does not constitute an “extraordinary circumstance” allowing the airline to free itself from its obligation to pay compensation.
In its judgment, it held that “restructuring and reorganisation are part of normal business management measures. As a result, airlines may, in the ordinary course of business, face disagreements or even conflict with their staff or some of their staff,” adding that such measures must be considered as “inherent” in the normal exercise of the activity of the airline concerned.
Ryanair had to admit this legislation in September 2017 and was forced to compensate its passengers after canceling 18,000 flights affecting 400,000 people, due to scheduling problems of its pilots. The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) then launched a case against Ryanair, finding that Ryanair had “misled” passengers by “providing them with inaccurate information about their rights”.