Low-cost airline Ryanair, today plagued by a strike by pilots across five countries, now faces another challenge, with a legal action brought by consumer organisation Test-Achats for compensation for passengers affected by this and previous actions. In Belgium, the strike is expected to lead to the cancellation of 26 of the 46 flights scheduled from Brussels Airport, while Charleroi will see 82 flights cancelled. The number of more than 100, however, can easily be doubled, as planes that do not arrive at their destination are unable to pick up passengers to bring them here. Some 14,000 passengers are affected in all.
Pilots are also striking in Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany and the company’s homeland Ireland. Pilots are protesting pay and conditions in general, including pressure of work. A particularly Ryanair touch, in addition, is the company’s policy of registering employees in Ireland, where social security charges are cheaper than elsewhere – even those employees who live and work in Belgium, and have never set foot in the Republic.
At the end of last month cabin crew across Europe went on strike for two days, with 23,000 passengers.
Now Test-Achats is taking up their case and that of passengers affected today, with legal actions before the justice of the peace in Charleroi and Zaventem, calling on Ryanair to respect what it describes as “very clear jurisprudence” in the matter of cancelled flights.
According to EU law, passengers whose flights are cancelled less than 14 days before departure are entitled to compensation of between €250 and €600. Instead, Ryanair offered reimbursement of the ticket price (often less than the €250 minimum) or a replacement flight or re-booking for another date.
Ryanair refuses to compensate passengers because, CEO Michael O-Reilly replied in a letter to Test-Achats, the strikes are “unjustified and unnecessary”. Test-Achats has comppiled a dossier of a sample of 50 passengers in whose name the action will go forward, but threatns to add more names to the case should Ryanair continue to fail to comply with the law.