The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will begin imposing “enforcement action” against Ryanair for its inability to give customers precise information regarding their rights in the wake of massive flight cancellations.
The regulator is seeking to meet with the Dublin-based carrier for a seven-day consultation period before it moves ahead with the next steps, which could include legal action for breaching consumer protection laws, if needed.
The CAA has already sent a letter to the low-cost carrier explaining its decision, which said that the company falsely claimed it did not have to re-route passenger on other airlines, particularly when there are no other services available.
The regulator also said that Ryanair stopped short of offering details on its duties to refund additional expenses sustained by passengers as a result of cancellations and re-routing. Those expenses include meals, hotels and transfer costs, the CAA said.
In addition, it also failed to right that information through a public statement despite CAA appeals to do so earlier this month, having already witnessed about 2,000 flights grounded after the company underestimated a shortage of pilots.
The company has already cancelled an extra 18,000 flights for the winter season in a move that will impact an estimated 400,000 customers.
The CAA said it was troubled Ryanair was breaking consumer protection laws by suppressing that information.
“There are clear laws in place which are intended to assist passengers in the event of a cancellation, helping minimize both the frustration and inconvenience caused by circumstances completely out of their control.
“We have made this crystal clear to Ryanair, who are well aware of their legal obligations, which includes how and when they should reroute passengers, along with the level of information it provides its passengers.
“The information Ryanair published today again fails to makes this clear.
“In expediting our enforcement action, we are seeking to ensure that Ryanair’s customers will receive the correct and necessary information, to make an informed choice about an alternative flight,” said CAA Chief Executive Andrew Haines.
Ryanair announced earlier this week that it was stopping 34 routes for the winter season, from November to March 2018.
Included are several notable routes used by British travellers, including London Stansted to Edinburgh and Glasgow, Gatwick to Belfast, Newcastle to Faro, and Glasgow to Las Palmas.
This development adds more fuel to the raging fire that Ryanair is currently after recently shelving up to 50 flights every day for six weeks.
Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary has pinned the blame on the move on mismanagement of pilots’ annual leave, leading to the over-allocation of blocks of holidays. Ryanair said the latest step will “eliminate all risk of further flight cancellations” and eliminate the risk of similar problems recurring next year.
“We sincerely apologize to those customers who have been affected by last week’s flight cancellations or these sensible schedule changes announced today,” said O’Leary in a statement.
The firm also plans to conduct a series of low-fare seat sales for winter 2017, as it is “confident that there will be no further roster-related cancellations”.
It argued less than 1% of the 50 million customers Ryanair will service this winter are jammed and all affected passengers have been sent an email alerting them and offering alternative flights or full refunds. They have also received a 40 euro (£35) travel voucher.
The flight cancellations has so far cost the airline around 25 million euro (£21 million).