The Civil Aviation Authority has told Ryanair it has until 5pm to find a solution for thousands of customers affected by flight cancellations.
The CAA has instructed Ryanair to tell passengers they are entitled to be rerouted by another carrier, reimburse their expenses, and commit to helping passengers who chose an unsuitable option on the grounds of misleading information.
The regulator’s chief executive Andrew Haines had previously said he was “furious” with the carrier, after it cancelled an extra 18,000 flights in a move that would affect 400,000 people.
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In an unusual move he threatened to take the airline to court, accusing it of “not complying with the law” over its handling of the fiasco.
The regulator had threatened “enforcement action” toward Ryanair, primarily concerning the airline’s failure to properly inform customers of their right to be rerouted with another airline in the event of a cancellation.
In response, a Ryanair spokesman said: “We will be meeting with the CAA and will comply fully with whatever requirements they ask us to.”
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However Mr Haines said Ryanair’s promises to comply with their obligations should be taken with a “pinch of salt”.
The escalation comes after weeks of trouble for Ryanair, which came under fire earlier this month for cancelling up to 50 flights a day as a result, it said, of an error with pilot holiday rosters.
The move left passengers out of pocket or stranded as Ryanair failed to provide alternative flights, accommodation, or compensation.
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The CAA, which represents the rights of airline consumers in the UK, has the right to take Ryanair to court but not suspend its licence to operate.
The airline has said the latest schedule changes – which affected popular routes including Stansted to Edinburgh, Gatwick to Belfast, and Glasgow to Las Palmas – will mean there is no new need for flight cancellations.