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Ryanair cancels 150 flights – but is refusing to pay compensation

Budget airline Ryanair has cancelled 150 flights scheduled for Friday due to strikes by its cabin crew in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain – here are your rights if you're affected.

Tens of thousands of customers are set to be disrupted by the cancellations on Friday, and Ryanair says all affected passengers were sent a text yesterday to let them know about their options.

But the airline is trying to argue it doesn't owe compensation, despite regulator the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) saying it is obliged to pay under EU law.

For your full rights when flights are delayed or cancelled, see our Flight Delay Compensation guide.

You will be offered an alternative flight or refund

Under EU flight delay law you have rights if your flight is cancelled or delayed.

If your flight on Friday is cancelled you're entitled to an alternative flight or a refund, and Ryanair says it contacted affected customers yesterday to let them know about these rights.

It's also worth noting you may be entitled to ask for a flight on an alternative airline, if the one you are offered by Ryanair is inconvenient. It's a bit of a grey area as to when Ryanair should agree its offer is inconvenient, but if you have found a better flight with an alternative airline you can ask to be booked onto that instead.

It's important that you ask Ryanair to rebook you, rather than just doing it yourself, to ensure you're not left out of pocket.

In September last year, Ryanair agreed to put passengers on alternative airlines after the CAA stepped in. See our Ryanair agrees to put passengers on other airlines' flights MSE News story for more information.

You should be owed compensation – but Ryanair says it won't pay up

The CAA says airlines should payout if their own staff strike, and this results in delays or cancellations that meet the criteria for compensation. This is based on a ruling by the European Court of Justice earlier this year. See our You CAN claim for flight delays and cancellations caused by 'wildcat' strikes after EU court ruling MSE News story for more information.

There are many rules around whether a flight cancellation meets the criteria for compensation and we have all the details in our Flight Delays guide. In brief, you may be able to claim if:

  • It's the airline's fault – eg, airport staff strikes aren't covered but strikes by airline staff are.
  • If your flight is cancelled less than 14 days before departure.
  • If your flight is cancelled and the alternative flight you're offered arrives a certain amount of time late. If you opt for an alternative flight, or even if you go for a refund, you can claim compensation based on the timings of the alternative flight offered. See how to check.

Despite of all this, Ryanair has said it won't pay out. 

In a statement, it said: "The number of flights cancelled this Friday 28 September has been reduced to 150 (from the expected 190) as the vast majority of our people will work as normal. Over 92% of Ryanair's 2,400 flights on Friday will be unaffected by these unnecessary strikes and will operate as scheduled.

"We sincerely apologise to those customers affected by these unnecessary strikes on Friday, which we have done our utmost to avoid.

"Under EU261 legislation, no compensation is payable to customers when the (strike) delay/cancellation is beyond the airline's control. If these strikes, by a tiny minority of Ryanair crew, were within Ryanair's control, there would be no strikes and no cancellations."

I think I'm owed compensation – how do I claim?

If you have been affected by the Ryanair strikes and think you're owed compensation, you should try to claim from Ryanair in the first instance – even though it says it won't pay out. You can use our free flight delays tool to submit and track your claim.

If it refuses to pay you compensation, you can escalate your claim to the AviationADR scheme – the alternative dispute resolution scheme Ryanair has signed up to in order to help resolve customers' complaints. This is free to do.

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