Ryanair cancellations. EU261/2004 Article 8.

Ryanair has been in the news recently due to a very large scheduling mess-up.  It has changed it’s annual leave year to one starting and ending January to December, meaning that it has screwed up how many flight deck crew are available to operate its flights.

That has resulted in 50 to 60 cancellations, every day, for the next six weeks.  It initially explained that it was only going to publish what flights it was going to cancel a few days ahead of time.  Media outrage rightfully ensued.

Yesterday it published the full list of cancellations on its website here.

However there was one comment in this BBC News article that caught my eye.  Specifically their CEO, Michael O’Leary is quoted as saying this “We will not pay for flights on other airlines, no. It is not part of the EU261 entitlement.

EU261/2004 is the set of laws that the European Union have drafted as a passengers bill of rights.  The link the full text of the law, in English, is here.

Over the years the provisions have been in force, they’ve been subject to a significant amount of legal scrutiny and challenge, particularly the articles that define the right to compensation for delay and cancellation.

However, Article 8 of the law says this:

1. Where reference is made to this Article, passengers shall be offered the choice between:

(a)  — reimbursement within seven days, by the means provided for in Article 7(3), of the full cost of the ticket at the price at which it was bought, for the part or parts of the journey not made, and for the part or parts already made if the flight is no longer serving any purpose in relation to the passenger’s original travel plan, together with, when relevant,
— a return flight to the first point of departure, at the earliest opportunity;

(b)  re-routing, under comparable transport conditions, to their final destination at the earliest opportunity; or

(c) re-routing, under comparable transport conditions, to their final destination at a later date at the passenger’s convenience, subject to availability of seats.


Reading clause (b) above, it does seem to imply that they must re-route you “at the earliest opportunity”.  Not at the earliest opportunity on a Ryanair flight, but on the first available flight with any carrier.

This seems to contradict O’Leary’s assertion in the BBC article.

If any lawyers are aware if this particular provision has been tested in law, I’d be very interested to hear.  If you’ve got any other thoughts on this particular clause, and how it should be interpreted, then please do post a comment, send a tweet or comment on the Facebook page.

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