Ryanair faces legal action by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) after canceling a further 18,000 flights this winter, affecting almost half a million passengers.
The CAA warned the budget airline it risks enforcement action for breaching consumers’ protection after “persistently misleading its passengers” about their rights.
In a letter to Ryanair, the CAA said Chief Executive Michael O’Leary was wrong to tell passengers last week that the no-frills carrier is under no obligation to arrange new flights, after 34 routes were canceled between November and March.
The flights were canceled after the company announced earlier this month the cancellation of up to 50 flights through October 31, blaming the “messing up” of pilot holiday rosters.
Ryanair said the fresh round of suspended routes will help prevent any further flight cancellations.
“There are clear laws in place, which are intended to assist passengers in the event of a cancellation …
“We have made this crystal clear to Ryanair, who are well aware of their legal obligations,” CAA Chief Executive Andrew Haines said, according to the Guardian.
The letter also said the Dublin-based company fell short of protecting its customers when it failed to tell them they could be booked on flights with alternative airlines if there were no suitable options with Ryanair.
The low-cost carrier said it has offered all 400,000 passengers affected the choice between a refund and an alternative flight.
Pledging there will now be no more cancellations, O’Leary said: “We sincerely apologize to those customers who have been affected by last week’s flight cancellations or these sensible schedule changes announced today.
“While over 99 percent of our 129 million customers will not have been affected by any cancellations or disruptions, we deeply regret any doubt we caused existing customers last week about Ryanair’s reliability, or the risk of further cancellations.”
The carrier said it will also hand affected passengers £40 (US$47) one-way or £80-return vouchers for travel between October and March 2018.
Affected routes include London Stansted to Edinburgh and Glasgow, Gatwick to Belfast, Newcastle to Faro, and Glasgow to Las Palmas.