Ryanair Seeks to Escape U.K. Penalty Over Scrapped Flights

Updated on
  • Regulator says airline ‘misleading’ travelers over rights
  • Watchdog looking into carrier’s plans to reroute passengers

Michael O'Leary at the company's annual general meeting in Dublin.

Photographer: Aidan Crawley/Bloomberg

Ryanair Holdings Plc will meet with the U.K. aviation regulator in an effort to avoid penalties stemming from claims that it has failed to properly inform customers of their rights following the cancellation of more than 20,000 flights.

The Civil Aviation Authority has begun an enforcement action accusing Ryanair of “persistently misleading” some 715,000 passengers about their legal entitlements, according to its website. The Dublin-based company will “comply fully with whatever requirements they ask us to,” a spokesman said Thursday. Ryanair shares fell 3.7 percent.

Europe’s biggest discount carrier initially scrapped 2,100 flights in September and October, or 2 percent of its daily offering, after failing to adequately prepare for new vacation rules for pilots. A further 18,000 services stretching through March were cancelled Wednesday by the company, which was already facing criticism over its management of the issue and the impact on customers.

Among other complaints, the U.K. regulator said Ryanair had repeatedly failed to inform passengers about all the expenses they could reclaim in connection with flight changes. Chief Executive Officer Michael O’Leary also incorrectly stated that the carrier isn’t obliged to reroute people on other airlines, it said.

“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,” CAA CEO Andrew Haines said in the regulator’s statement. “We have made this crystal clear to Ryanair, who are well aware of their legal obligations.”

All passengers affected by cancellations have been offered “re-accommodation or full refunds,” O’Leary said Wednesday, adding that the Irish company plans to offer price reductions to win back disgruntled travelers.

Ryanair shares fell as much as 4 percent before closing 60 cents lower at 16.44 euros in Dublin. They’ve declined 3.7 percent since the carrier first disclosed the staffing shortfall, though remain up 13 percent for the year.

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