Ryanair facing censure after ash cloud passenger abandonment claim
We never like to see Ryanair falling foul of the authorities, and we’re sure that you all feel the same way. So then, we’ve shed a quiet tear today at the news that the advocate general at the European court of justice has issued the airline with a ticking-off in the wake of a claim by a passenger who was stranded by the ash cloud back in 2010.
Denise McDonagh was stuck for a week after her flight from Faro to Dublin was scuppered by the pesky cloud. She argued that Ryanair did not provide her with assistance and asked for €1,130 (£942) in damages, to cover the costs of meals, refreshments, accommodation and transport. EU regulations state that airlines are bound to cover the cost of care during disruption due to "extraordinary circumstances", but Ryanair that the ash cloud went ‘beyond extraordinary circumstances. Which would be what – ‘mindboggling circumstances’?
The advocate general said that “The provision of care is particularly important in the case of extraordinary circumstances which persist over a long time. It is precisely in situations where the waiting period occasioned by the cancellation of a flight is particularly lengthy that it is necessary to ensure that an air passenger, whose flight has been cancelled, can have access to essential goods and services throughout that period.”
“A limitation of the obligation to provide care would in some measure deprive the EU legislation of its effectiveness, since after a few days the air passengers concerned would be abandoned to their fate.”
The advocate general’s findings still need to be confirmed by the court itself – if that happens, Ryanair could find themselves with a slapped wrist and a compensation bill to pay. There’s always the possibility that other passengers who were let down by them could claim in the future as well. They’ll probably cover it by introducing some new charges for stuff.