DUBLIN, Sept 29 (Reuters) - Britain’s aviation regulator has given Ryanair a Friday deadline to inform customers on cancelled flights of their rights to be re-routed on rival airlines and compensated for some out-of-pocket expenses.
A wave of Ryanair flight cancellations caused by a shortage of pilots is set to affect more than 700,000 passengers over the coming months.
The UK Civil Aviation Authority rebuked the Irish budget airline for providing “misleading information” after it offered affected customers refunds or alternative Ryanair flights.
The rules oblige Ryanair to also offer customers flights on other airlines if there is no suitable Ryanair service available and to repay some passengers’ expenses caused by the cancellations.
The CAA asked Ryanair to issue a press release explaining its policy on re-routing and repayment of expenses and to put a link to the statement at the top of its web page by 5pm London time (1600 GMT) on Friday.
It said in a letter to Ryanair that it did not consider measures taken by the airline so far to be “sufficient to provide clarity to the large number of passengers ... who have been misled by Ryanair.”
The CAA has the power to take court action against carriers that fail to comply with consumer rights law.
Ryanair said in a statement it would “comply fully with whatever requirements the CAA ask us to” but suggested the CAA had failed to take enforcement action against rival British Airways following a computer systems breakdown in May.
It said it tries to accommodate reasonable re-routing requests using a guideline of three-times the original airfare, which it says compares favourably to its competitors.
Britain’s Aviation Minister Martin Callanan on Friday called on O’Leary to fulfil his legal obligations to passengers, while Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said he expected the Irish regulator would act if Ryanair failed to provide customers with alternate flights.
Ryanair says it had enough pilots for the flights but not enough to provide back-up service in the event of disruption and cancelled the flights, a small percentage of its total, to ensure a high level of punctuality across its services. (Reporting by Conor Humphries; Editing by Adrian Croft)