Ryanair is refusing to pay compensation for delays and cancellations caused by strikes by some of its cabin crew and pilots despite TWO regulators saying it should.

The UK's Civil Aviation Authority, and its counterpart in Spain, have released statements saying passengers are entitled to claim compensation from the budget airline if they face delays of more than three hours, or short-notice cancellations, owing to strikes by the airline's staff.

But Ryanair says passengers are not entitled to compensation - meaning passengers may have to appeal its decisions with its alternative dispute resolution service and so face a longer, more uncertain wait for compensation.

Four thousand customers had their flights cancelled today owing to strikes by some Irish pilots, and a further strike is planned for Tuesday. A further 50,000 customers on the continent have been affected by planned strikes on Wednesday and Thursday by cabin crew in Belgium, Portugal and Spain. The disputes centre on pay and conditions.

For full info on flight delay compensation and how to reclaim for free see our Flight Delays guide.

I think I'm owed compensation what should I do?

There are many rules around whether a flight delay meets the criteria for compensation and we have all the details in our Flight Delays guide, but in brief:

  • You must've arrived more than three hours late (see how to check past delay lengths)
  • If your flight is cancelled you may be entitled to compensation if you're told not told at least 14 days before your flight
  • The flight must have left from an EU airport, or you must have arrived at an EU airport on an EU airline. Under this law, EU airports also include those in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
  • It must be the airline's fault - eg, airport staff strikes aren't covered but strikes by airline staff are. What counts?
  • How much you can claim is fixed, based on delay and journey length. What am I owed?

If you have been affected by the Ryanair flights and you think you are owed compensation you should try to claim from Ryanair in the first instance. You can use our free flight delays tool to submit and track your claim.

If, as is likely given Ryanair's current statement, it refuses to pay you compensation you will need to escalate your claim to the AviationADR scheme - the alternative dispute resolution scheme Ryanair has signed up to help resolve customers' complaints. This is free to do.

What does the CAA say?

The CAA said it was responding to Ryanair's passengers' concerns about their rights during the current and planned industrial action.

A spokesperson said: "Passengers have the right to seek compensation under EU legislation when flights are delayed by three hours or more, cancelled or when they are denied boarding.

"We note that the recent industrial action is not by Ryanair's UK employees, but it is the view of the UK Civil Aviation Authority, taking account of previous court rulings, that when a flight cancellation is caused by strike action by the airline's employees, the airline is required to pay compensation to passengers in respect of the cancellation of the flight, if it has not warned passengers of the cancellation at least two weeks prior to the scheduled time of departure.

"In the case of the most recent industrial action involving Ryanair, passengers must first submit their claim to the airline and if they are not satisfied with the response, they can seek redress via the approved Alternative Dispute Resolution service."

Here is the statement by its Spanish counterpart the State Aviation Safety Agency.

What does Ryanair say?

A spokesperson said: "Ryanair fully complies with all EU261 legislation, however, as these flight cancellations were caused by extraordinary circumstances, no compensation is due.  Under EU261 legislation, no compensation is payable when the union is acting unreasonably and totally beyond the airline’s control."

Ryanair refused to give us the list of affected flights, but said: "We don't break down this information by airport or country. Any affected customers have been contacted by email and text message regarding their flight and given the option of a free transfer on to the next available flight, or a full refund.

"Customers travelling to/from Ireland today (20th July) or to/from Belgium, Portugal and Spain on 25th and 26th July  who have not received a cancellation notice should proceed to the airport as planned. Flight information can also be viewed our website."