London, October 30 2020 – Over the years, compensation flight compensation due to industrial action have been a recurring topic of dispute between consumer rights advocates and airlines throughout Europe. The EU Passenger Rights Regulation states that, if the airline is responsible for the flight disruption, passengers are entitled to compensation from the airline for flight cancellations and delays of more than three hours. Over the past years, Ryanair has neglected to create fair working conditions for its employees and has therefore faced multiple crew walkouts resulting in an enormous number of flight cancellations. Ryanair has refused to acknowledge their responsibility for these cancellations and has denied all claims for compensation leaving passengers frustrated. Flight-Delayed.co.uk has taken legal measures as the legal representation of its clients to ensure that passengers finally receive the compensation they were entitled to. After several hearings, various courts have now strengthened passenger rights by holding Ryanair responsible for the crew strikes and stating that affected passengers are entitled to compensation for the resulting cancellations.
1.5 Million Passengers affected by the walkouts
The year 2018 was marked throughout by Ryanair cabin staff and pilot strikes. Months of negotiations regarding better working conditions led to new waves of industrial action, especially during the main holiday season in July to September. Numerous passengers were affected by thousands of cancellations throughout Europe and tried unsuccessfully to receive financial compensation from Ryanair. “According to our calculations, around 1.5 million passengers were affected by cancellations due to crew strikes, none of which have received any compensation from Ryanair for these inconveniences. Since these compensation claims are still valid in Germany even three years after the flight, the number of passengers who are still asking us for help today continues to grow. In total, Ryanair owes these passengers more than 468 million euros in compensation so far,” says Tom van Bokhoven, CEO of the air passenger rights specialist Flight-Delayed.co.uk.
Ryanair showed no sense of understanding
To stress how clear the legal situation is, the team from Flight-Delayed.co.uk created a detailed timeline with all the events surrounding the Ryanair strikes in 2018. In several rounds of negotiations with the airline, various European labour unions demanded improved working conditions for Ryanair pilots and the airline’s cabin crew. Ryanair, very early on, made it clear that they would now “bow to laughable demands” made by pilots. Michael ‘O Leary, CEO of Ryanair stated that they would rather see strikes and disruptions than undermining the airline’s productivity.
The discontent among Ryanair’s crew had already been raised a year earlier when, according to several media reports, 700 pilots left Ryanair and complained about the increasingly toxic work environment. To the displeasure of all passengers, this increase led to problems at the airline. At the same time, the demands of the staff did not seem so absurd. “The airline’s pilots only demanded what had long been standard in the aviation industry as well as any other industry. Instead of using abusive techniques, described by Ryanair employees as bullying, disciplinary processes and psychological conditioning of crew members, Ryanair should adopt standards defined by regional competitors and the pilots should be provided with professional legal assistance in the negotiation of all contracts,” says Tom van Bokhoven of Flight-Delayed.co.uk. In return, the pilots even offered to forgo some of their leave to eliminate the existing problems with the airline. The demands of the cabin crew are particularly noteworthy. They demanded nothing more than a fair living wage as well as their contracts to be created based on local laws instead of Irish law.
EU Commission had to intervene
However, all these demands fell on deaf ears at Ryanair, which, according to the union Cockpit, did not make an improved offer even after more than 9 months of negotiations. The airline justified this by stating that all employment contracts are negotiated and concluded under Irish law. This was a particular point of contention, as the airline’s pilots, in particular, were in favour of contracts according to local law. In a statement in September 2018, the European Commission finally had to intervene. The Commission announced that the applicable law for contracts is not determined by the location of the airline, but the address of the respective employee. EU Commissioner Marianne Thyssen again made it clear that employees do not and should not have to fight for their local legislation to apply and said to Ryanair that with great success comes great responsibility.
“We believe that based on the statements of the EU Commission and our research into all events between Ryanair and its employees, the legal situation is clear. The months of negotiations, as well as our legal proceedings against the airline, which often take up to one year, should not be needed. Since Ryanair has refused to accept current EU law for a long time, they must take full responsibility for the crew strikes”, says van Bokhoven. Flight-Delayed.co.uk welcomes the decision of all courts, which take the side of the consumers and grant compensation payments due to crew industrial action and urges all affected passengers to stand against the airline and enforce their rights.