Budget airline Ryanair U-turns on reimbursing travellers
Irish budget airline Ryanair said Thursday it would comply with EU regulations to reimburse thousands of travellers left stranded by the volcanic ash cloud, in an abrupt reversal of its position.
Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary had previously said it would only refund up to the cost of tickets, but the firm confirmed in a statement Thursday that it would pay out in full.
"Ryanair confirmed this morning that it will comply with EU261 regulations under which EU airlines are required to reimburse the reasonable receipted expenses (as set out in EU261) of disrupted passengers," the airline said.
It emphasised that the EU regulation did not entitle passengers to compensation for their ordeal, sparked by a cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland which grounded flights across Europe for almost a week.
"The events of the last seven days, under which Europe's airlines were prevented from flying by the closure of European airspace highlight how absurd and discriminatory the EU261 regulations are towards Europe's airlines," O'Leary said.
He added that Ryanair would continue its efforts to change EU legislation so reimbursements were "limited to the ticket price paid in the same way they are for train, coach and ferry operators".
On Wednesday, O'Leary said the EU legislation was not designed to cover a week of expenses for passengers who had paid just 20 or 30 euros for their flights, saying: "We will not be meeting those bills."
Ryanair, which carries an average of 220,000 passengers across Europe each day, said it was operating a full schedule between Britain and Ireland and continental Europe Thursday, as well as extra flights from Britain and Ireland to Spain, Italy and the Canary Islands.
© 2010 AFP