Ryanair has had a tough time of it lately, with their well-publicised problems with pilots and the cancelling of 800,000 passenger’s flights. Added to that was the accusations that they misled those passengers about their rights and what they could do in the face of a cancellation. But could the whole ‘pilotgate’ affair be the trigger of the end of cheap flights?
The concern comes because airlines who cancel flights have an apparent open-ended liability for the out of pocket expenses that these cancellations can cause. This can be anything from tickets for a football match to wages lost through missing days at work. There are also additional requirements from the EU for airlines to cover hotel rooms and meals connected with flight disruptions.
And these high costs that Ryanair and others can incur when flights are cancelled means that airlines may have to consider raising the cost of their lowest tickets to ensure that they collect enough money to cover them.
According to Paul Charles, former communications director for both Eurostar and Virgin Atlantic, it won’t just be Ryanair who will increase fairs. As other airlines see a rise in demand, they too may increase their lowest prices.
Ryanair has initially said it wasn’t going to pay compensation for the people who suffered cancellations and that it would only reimburse ‘reasonable’ out of pocket expenses that were incurred as part of the problem. It would also require expenses claim for from clients to be completed and forwarded with original receipts.
However, they later admitted that this wasn’t in line with the passengers’ rights rules that the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) had accused the company of breaking. Some customers had spent up to £1500 of their own money for hotels and other costs following a cancellation.
The company had even told customers to seek flights from another airline following cancellation and even told them to take a bus or drive themselves rather than hire a car to keep costs down. The offer had been for a flight on the same or next day from the original or a ‘suitable alternative airport’ with only select airlines such as EasyJet or Norwegian. And if these weren’t available, then it would offer ‘comparable alternative transport’ including flight, train, bus or car hire. But it reserved the right to assess costs on a case by case basis.
Customers who had already accepted compensation for the company are now able to reclaim for any other expenses that incurred but were originally told that they couldn’t claim for. But some aviation experts believe this could lead to a torrent of claims that could then force Ryanair to start increasing their flight costs to help cover.
The company had been forced to cancel hundreds of flights at very short notice after a problem came to light with the rostering of the company’s pilots. This continued to escalate with 25 jets being grounded for the winter -equivalent to 1/16th of the entire fleet. But by giving more than two weeks’ notice, the company initially said it would then not pay cash compensation to these customers.
Affected customers were offered a refund or re-booking on a different Ryanair flight. You can contact them via this page. Options with other airlines were not mentioned and this caused fury from the CAA, with chief executive Andrew Haines laying a list of demands to the company on behalf of passengers.
Whether this does have a long-term negative effect on the cost of those cheapest ticket prices is something we may not see until after the winter period is finished.