Ryanair has gone to the European Court of Justice in Strasbourg to challenge a ruling which states airlines should compensate passengers for ‘Acts of God’ which result in cancellations.
The Irish low-cost carrier believes the current EU 261 regulations are discriminating and unfit for purpose as they places an unlimited right to care on airlines.
Ryanair is launches the case after the Icelandic volcanic airspace closers of 2010.
The incident led to 17 days of flight cancellations across Europe in Apr/May that year and were “totally beyond the control of European Union airlines”, argues Ryanair.
In defending this test case, taken by a passenger who had travelled with Ryanair to Faro and became stranded for nine days as a result of the unnecessary volcanic ash airspace closures, Ryanair is requesting the EU Court of Justice to decide:
If the volcanic ash airspace closures were ‘extraordinary circumstances’.
If airlines should have to compensate passengers for these “Act of God” cancellations when travel insurance companies bear no liability.
If the duty of care to airline passengers under EU261 should be capped in line with other forms of transport (road, rail and sea) to a monetary value and/or time duration.
Ryanair’s Stephen McNamara said: “Ryanair believes that the current EU passenger rights legislation is both discriminatory and unfit for purpose as it does not place airlines on an equal footing with competing road, rail and sea transport providers.
“EU261 places an unlimited right to care and compensation liability on airlines, who have been made the insurer of last resort as insurance companies and governments evade any responsibility for these unforseen extraordinary Act of God events.
“Ryanair believes that the right to care and compensation obligations of airlines should be brought into line with those of competing coach, rail and ferry providers who have monetary and time limits placed in their EU261 liability.
“Airlines should not have to shoulder unlimited liability for passenger costs for Act of God events which are entirely beyond their control when competing rail, coach and ferry operations enjoy limits on their obligations.”