The Independent (U.K.) reports that the British Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has instructed the ultra-low-cost carrier Ryanair to offer alternative flights and reimbursement for some expenses to passengers who have been affected by its mass cancellations.
Ryanair has canceled over 20,000 flights due to a pilot shortage.
Andrew Haines, chief executive of the CAA, communicated the requests directly via a letter to Ryanair’s legal head, Julius Komorek.
In his letter, Haines wrote that Ryanair had been “persistently misleading passengers with inaccurate information regarding their rights.” Ryanair has not consistently informed passengers they have a right to ask for a flight on another airline.
In response, the airline said it was “meeting with the CAA and will comply fully with whatever requirements they ask us to.” However, reporters for The Independent discovered the airline was still declining to book passengers on other carriers.
Haines has asked Ryanair to issue a statement by 5:00 p.m. Friday clarifying the rebooking policy for all passengers who have been affected by the pilot shortage. The statement must be easily accessible on the Ryanair website.
The CAA also formally requested that Ryanair help rebook passengers who did not choose the best option for themselves because they had been denied information. Haines also requested that Ryanair refund the out-of-pocket costs of affected passengers.
Ryanair will also be required to send affected passengers an explanatory email. The CAA said it must have the draft text of this email – which must contain “accurate and comprehensive information on their rights and options” – from the airline by 5:00 p.m. Monday.
The email must be sent to affected passengers by 5:00 p.m. Wednesday.
The CAA’s ruling will be of particular interest to passengers who were scheduled on three domestic routes: Stansted-Edinburgh, Stansted-Glasgow, and Gatwick-Belfast. All three routes were canceled for the entire winter.
Passengers will be entitled to rail tickets (for England-Scotland travel) or flights on airlines like Ryanair’s main competitor, easyJet. Ryanair will be responsible for covering the costs. The airline will also be responsible for reimbursing the cost difference for any passenger who accepted a refund and then was forced to book a more expensive flight.
Reimbursing affected passengers is expected to cost Ryanair tens of millions of pounds.