And why not to refer to customers as Bastards.
Following the recent Volcanic Ash induced airspace closures in Europe a lot has been made, particularly by the low cost carriers, of the effects of the EU261 regulation about passengers refund rights. As to be expected Ryanair was the most vocal of these, and its enigmatic CEO Michael O’Leary initially refused to pay any claims arising under EU261 as a result of the grounding of his aircraft. He later had to back track on this (presumably after advice from his lawyers).
Well, it seems that he is back on the offensive about the compensation, and this Guardian article really got my back up. I should say I have no personal claim from Ryanair (or any other airline), and I have flown with Ryanair a couple of times and found their aircraft and crew to be exemplary.
I actually have mixed feelings on EU261; I think it is right that airlines should look after passengers when they let them down (on which note: Never fly with Delta!), however you also have to have responsibility for sorting yourself out. You can’t rely on other people your whole life.
However it is not a retrospective regulation which either the EU or national governments have introduced since the ash cloud airspace closures, it was introduced in 2004 and came in to force in February 2005 – or 5 years ago. So the airlines have known about it since 2004, and should be factoring it in to the cost of doing business. Its a regulation like any other and compliance with it has a cost attached which has to be factored into your business plan. It is non negotiable, a condition of operating passenger flights in Europe. No one is forcing Mr O’Leary to operate in Europe.
Volcano’s have been around a little while too, and the danger of volcanic ash to commercial jet engines has been well documented since the incident involving British Airways flight 9 in 1982. Add these three bits of information together and you would have thought any business with the clear commercial aptitude of Ryanair would have allowed for this possibility, albeit remotely.
Weather is most probably the biggest factor to consider when flying, and the likelihood of snow / fog / rain closing airports is factored into business plans as a potential cost. This should have been too.
You can’t simply pick and choose which laws you want to comply with, although Mr. O’Leary thinks he can. If he wants to challenge those laws, or lobby for amendments or new laws then that is his & the airlines right. For the record I think there should be some upper limits on EU261.
Own Worst Enemy.
Most airlines graciously accepted that the grounding of flights was not the fault of the passengers, could not reasonably have been foreseen and was part of their commercial risk (aviation is full of risks which have to be managed); and arranged accommodation, food and transportation for their passengers. In doing so they undoubtedly managed to secure bulk discounts on hotels, food etc. I have a friend who was stranded in Mexico at the time, and this is precisely what Thomas Cook did for him.
Ryanair didn’t do this though, in their inevitable style they left people to fend for themselves. So people did. And they paid “rack rate” for hotels during a period of peak demand, tourist rate for goods and services and Ryanair could exercise no control over this! They made it worse for themselves; and then refer to their customers as “bastards using a cheaters charter.”
What a charming company. The Italian authorities have already caught up with Ryanair and fined them €3m, but I personally hope their failure to account for the cost of doing business costs them more in lost customers. I won’t fly with them again.