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Ryanair says ‘2 per cent of customers’ face cancellations

Abandoned Ryanair customers have today branded the budget airline a ‘disgrace’ after being forced to spend up to £1,500 of their own money on new flights to get home.

More than 250,000 people caught up in the cancellation chaos will miss out on compensation but boss Michael O’Leary insists he won’t quit and said: ‘It’s not my biggest cock-up’. 

Many have been stranded abroad and offered alternative flights back to Britain days later, meaning they have needed to shell out for hotels, flights and taxis home out of their own pockets.

Victim Neil Johnson told the BBC: ‘We managed to get flights to John lennon Airport in Liverpool at a cost of £1,500 and then had t get a taxi at the cost of £100 taxi back to Manchester to collect our car for the final journey home. Ryanair are an absolute disgrace’.

Rebecca Brown is also stuck abroad after a flight cancellation and said: ‘We’ve had to pay out hundreds of pounds extra to book another hotel and also extra flights to get back. The communication from Ryanair has been absolutely atrocious. We don’t even know why it has been cancelled. We’re just really desperate to get home now’.

American Ewen Callaway also told the BBC: ‘We are about half way through what’s going to be an all day journey involving a taxi and two planes. It’s been a really frustrating experience. Frustrating and costly’. 

Neil Johnson was forced to spend up to £1,500 of his own money on new flights to get home

Ryanair has stranded many customers with Rebecca Brown and Neil Johnson forced to spend up to £1,500 of their own money on new flights to get home

Chief executive Michael O'Leary, who saw his company's shares fall by three percent knocking around £500million off its market value because of a cancellation crisis, but says he couldn't give a 'rats a**' about the plunging share price

Chief executive Michael O’Leary, who saw his company’s shares fall by three percent knocking around £500million off its market value because of a cancellation crisis, but says he couldn’t give a ‘rats a**’ about the plunging share price

The debacle affecting two per cent of the airline’s giant customer base could cost the airline £18million and knocked £500million off the airline’s value yesterday.

American Ewen Callaway also told the BBC: 'We are about half way through what's going to be an all day journey involving a taxi and two planes'

American Ewen Callaway also told the BBC: ‘We are about half way through what’s going to be an all day journey involving a taxi and two planes’

During an extraordinary press conference in Dublin Mr O’Leary said: ‘As the largest individual shareholder in Ryanair, I never give a rat’s a** about the share price. I couldn’t care less’.

He added: ‘It’s not my biggest cock-up. I have a litany of cock-ups in Ryanair over the past 25 years’.

The under-fire carrier has revealed the 2,024 routes which will be axed over the next six weeks, leaving the travel plans of up to 400,000 passengers in chaos. 

It has emerged that 250,000 travellers now left without 1,300 flights cannot get compensation of at least €250 demanded by the EU because the majority have been given more than two weeks’ notice.  

 

The fiasco at Europe’s biggest carrier has been caused by changes to its holiday year – a backlog of staff leave means it has too few pilots on standby over the next six weeks.

That means any minor disruptions – such as weather problems – were causing knock-on delays for lack of staff cover. Ryanair chiefs decided to clear the backlog through the drastic last resort of cancelling flights.

On a shambolic day for Ryanair:

  • Its shares fell around 3% yesterday, knocking a further £500million off its market value;
  • The compensation bill was expected to run to millions of pounds – but 250,000 people may not be eligible;
  • Michael O’Leary insisted he should stay in charge and be allowed to clear up the ‘mess’;
  • Mr O’Leary’s said they ‘come out with our hands up’ but insisted nobody – least of all himself – would be getting the chop over the airline’s decision to cancel flights;

Customers have already vented their fury over having their weddings ruined and their whole years destroyed thanks to the bedlam caused by the grounded planes. 

Mr O’Leary called a press conference yesterday and said air traffic control delays, strikes, bad weather and a backlog of holiday has led to punctuality falling to below 80 per cent over the last two weeks and admitted: ‘It is clearly a mess.’

The under-fire boss said it will cost up to £5million in lost revenue and £18million in compensation.

But in his usual bombastic style he added: ‘It’s a cock-up that affects two per cent of our customers over a six-week period and I’m very sorry for it. Has this been one of the greatest days in Ryanair’s history? No.

‘It is my mess-up there, therefore I have to clean it up. I don’t think my head should roll, I need to stay here and fix this. I apologise to customers who were affected’.

He added: ‘We’re working very hard at the moment to make sure we finalise the list of flight cancellations, which will affect less than two per cent of our customers, and also look after those customers who are disrupted.’  

The under-fire carrier has revealed the 2,024 routes which will be axed over the next six weeks, leaving passengers stranded or out of pocket

The under-fire carrier has revealed the 2,024 routes which will be axed over the next six weeks, leaving passengers stranded or out of pocket

The crisis ‘could be a Ratner moment’ for the airline, according to Martin Lewis, a leading consumer campaigner. 

That was a reference to Gerald Ratner infamously describing some of his jewellery firm’s products as ‘total crap’.   

What are passengers’ rights when flights are cancelled?

Under EU Regulation 261/2004 holidaymakers have certain rights if their flight is cancelled or delayed.

The flight must have departed from an EU airport and be operated by any airline, or it must be arriving into an EU airport and be operated by an EU airline. The ‘EU airport’ also includes the following countries; Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

Firstly airlines must offer an alternative flight or a full refund, if your flight was cancelled.

You can also get a full refund if the flight wasn’t cancelled but was delayed for more than five hours and you no longer wish to travel.

Airlines must also offer you meals, refreshments, and hotel accommodation as appropriate whilst you wait for a rearranged flight for both delays and cancellation.

They should also cover any transport costs between the hotel and the airport.

You should keep any food, transport or accommodation receipts to use when making a claim for compensation.

Here are some of the key questions around the claims process:

What rules apply?

EU law protects passengers whose flights are delayed or cancelled under the Denied Boarding Regulation.

This applies to flights either departing from an EU airport or those that are both arriving at an EU airport and operated by an EU airline, such as Ryanair.

Are passengers entitled to a refund?

Yes, passengers can claim a refund from the airline. If they have booked a return flight and the outbound leg is cancelled, they can also claim the full cost of the return ticket.

What if a passenger still wants to travel?

Ryanair must offer an alternative flight as soon as possible after the cancelled flight. This will be “at worse” on the following day, Ryanair said.

Do they get any assistance while they wait?

Delayed passengers are entitled to claim reasonable expenditure for food, soft drinks, phone calls and accommodation.

What about compensation?

If less than 14 days notice is given for a cancellation, airline travellers can claim up to 250 euros (£221) under EU regulation 261, depending on the timing of the alternative flight.

Customers given more warning are not entitled to a payout.

Is compensation automatic?

No, disrupted passengers must write a letter of complaint to the airline. 

They should keep as much evidence as they can, such as boarding cards and receipts to claim expenses.

A template letter can be found on the website of consumer watchdog Which? 

Mr Lewis, who founded moneysavingexpert.com, predicted the final compensation bill would be much higher than Ryanair’s estimated £17.7million.

He said: ‘This appears to be a totally self-inflicted injury from a company trying to turn around its reputation for treating its customers badly. The one thing going for Ryanair was that it had a reputation for getting people from A to B, usually on time.

‘So the damage to its brand is going to be huge. Anyone affected will think twice before booking with Ryanair – others will be more likely to fly with another airline if there is not much difference in price.’

He said the Ratner moment could follow unless the airline got on top of the situation.  

In an extraordinary press conference, Ryanair’s boss was in agreement about the figures suggested in terms of his company’s losses and said: ‘Clearly there’s a large reputational impact for which again I apologise. We will try to do better in future.’ 

‘In terms of lost profitability we think it will cost us something of the order of up to about five million euros (£4.4million) over the next six weeks and in terms of the EU261 compensation we think that will be something up to a maximum of 20 million euros but much depends on how many of the alternative flights our customers take up.’

Customers reacted furiously to the news with David Bushby saying: ‘Ryanair is disgrace with no thought to care of passengers. Never heard anything like it. Ostracise now and sink O’Leary.’

Another, Dom Glover, accused the airline of ruining his wedding and took to Twitter to vent his anger. 

He said: ‘After Ryanair spoiled our wedding we will never book another Ryanair ticket again. Utter disgrace of a company deserves to be sued to hell.’ 

One passenger told BBC News: ‘Ryanair left me stranded in Krakow and gave me no option to get home in a reasonable amount of time so I took matters into my own hands. 

‘I spent £500 on tickets for myself, my partner and my mother to get back to London on another carrier.

‘We’re about halfway through what’s going to be an all-day journey involving a taxi and two planes and it’s been a really frustrating experience. Frustrating and costly.’

Another added: ‘Pretty disappointed about it. Even if they gave me a week’s longer notice it would have been much better for me but they didn’t. 

‘They texted me the evening before the morning I was supposed to fly out so, yeah, pretty disappointed’.

Mr O’Leary said: ‘If they’re not satisfied with the alternative flights offered they can have a full refund and they will all be entitled to their EU261 compensation entitlements.

‘We will not be trying to claim exceptional circumstances.

‘This is our mess-up. When we make a mess in Ryanair we come out with our hands up.

‘We try to explain why we’ve made the mess and we will pay compensation to those passengers who are entitled to compensation, which will be those flights that are cancelled over the next two weeks.’

Ryanair will drop 40-50 flights a day over the next six weeks, leaving passengers stranded or out of pocket

Ryanair will drop 40-50 flights a day over the next six weeks, leaving passengers stranded or out of pocket

Ryanair’s history of mishaps from disability discrimination to telling staff to watch their weight to save on fuel 

 2002: Ordered to pay more than £40,000 in damages to its one millionth customer after it broke a promise to give her free flights for life

2004: Announced 50p ‘wheelchair levy’ on all passengers to pay for wheelchair assistance after a disabled man won landmark discrimination case against the firm

2008: Ordered to withdraw an advert featuring a model in school-girl style clothes and promising ‘hottest back to school fares’

2010: Boss Michael O’Leary suggests his planes could fly without a co-pilot to save money – instead training a flight attendant to help land a plane in an emergency

2011: Advert promoting tickets to ‘place in the sun’ banned as destinations had temperatures of between zero and 14 degrees centigrade

2012: Spokesman says staff are encouraged to watch their weight to help save on aircraft fuel costs

2015: UK judge rules that Ryanair’s attempts to slash time limit for passengers claiming compensation for delayed flights falls foul of European law

2015: Ryanair has to deny its own statement which said board had approved plans for flights to US

2017: Accused by passengers of deliberately splitting up families who refuse to pay extra to choose their seats.

July, 2017: Infuriates passengers by claiming families are making their toddlers drag suitcases on planes to avoid paying fees to put baggage in hold

September, 2017: Says passengers will have to pay for priority boarding if they want to take a second item of hand luggage on board

2017: Briefly suspends package holiday booking service just two months after launch – blaming illegal screen-scrapers

2017: As of today, optional fees listed on its website include £60 to carry a musical instrument, £160 for a name change, £100 for missing a flight, £35 to carry golf clubs, £50 to check in at the airport.

Mr O’Leary insisted the airline is ‘not short of pilots’ as he explained the reason behind the cancellations.

He said: ‘What we have messed up is the allocation of holidays and trying to over-allocate holiday during September and October, while we’re still running most of the summer schedule, and taking flight delays because of principally air traffic control and weather disruptions.’

Some have alleged the airline is trying to steer customers away from claiming compensation by not making the offer clear on its website.

It tells passengers: ‘We offer you two options to choose from: 1. Apply for a refund 2. Change your Cancelled Flight’.

However, Ryanair fails to inform them it is required to pay €250 to €400 under EU rules, nor the obligation to pay for flights on other airlines ‘at the earliest opportunity’.

It does have a link outlining the EU regulation at the bottom of the page and only travellers who follow the link and read the small print will be able to see this.

Paul Charles, former communications director at Virgin Atlantic, has slammed the move.

He said: ‘It’s misleading to give customers only half the true picture. 

‘They are entitled to EU compensation because of the cancellations so why aren’t Ryanair being upfront? It smacks of the Ryanair of old.’ 

Aviation minister Lord Callanan has demanded that Ryainair pays compensation to customers as soon as possible.

He told the Times: ‘We expect all airlines to fulfil their obligations to their customers and do everything possible to notify them well in advance of any disruption to their journey.

‘In the event of any disruption or cancellation, airlines must ensure customers are fully compensated and every effort is made to provide alternative travel arrangements.’

Rory Boland, travel editor of consumer group Which?, said the airline must arrange alternative flights or provide a full refund. 

Ryanair chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs said the company will ‘continue to send regular updates’ to passengers. 

The airline explained there will be a two per cent reduction in its 2,500 daily scheduled flights until the end of October.

Ryanair also said a ‘slightly higher number’ of flights were cancelled this weekend, and it will bring in additional standby aircraft to help restore punctuality.

A spokesman said the number of flights delayed or cancelled was ‘unacceptable’.

The 2,024 flights cancelled by Ryanair: Check here to see if you have been affected by the scandal 

Ryanair suddenly removed 160 scheduled services to destinations across Europe on Fridays furious (stock photo)

Ryanair suddenly removed 160 scheduled services to destinations across Europe on Fridays furious (stock photo)

Ryanair will drop 40-50 flights a day over the next six weeks, leaving passengers stranded or out of pocket

Ryanair will drop 40-50 flights a day over the next six weeks, leaving passengers stranded or out of pocket

Some travellers said last-minute cancellations had left them out-of-pocket due to non-refundable accommodation costs, or with no choice but to book expensive alternative flights or transport.

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has admitted the cancellation of flights due to pilot holidays is ‘a mess’

Others said they had been left stranded in their holiday destination and many urged Ryanair to publish a list of all flight cancellations.

The vast majority of UK cancellations affected Stansted and some Dublin flights were also dropped. 

Writing on Ryanair’s Facebook page, Lucy Dwyer said she is due to travel on Thursday and needs to know if the flight will go ahead.

She wrote: ‘It’s three days before the flight. Can you tell me before I book airport transfers? This is an absolute joke. My anxiety is through the roof! Thanks Ryanair.’

Another passenger, Lizzie Gayton, said she had to spend almost £700 to get home on Sunday after her flight from Lisbon to London Stansted was cancelled with less than 48 hours’ notice.

‘You weren’t able to offer me another flight in time for me to get back for work,’ she wrote.

‘It is lucky that I had a credit card on me and don’t have six kids to pay for! It is outrageous to think you are treating paying customers like this.’

Harriet Kathryn Ross wrote: ‘What they need to do is confirm and publish a schedule of which flights will be cancelled over the next six weeks… it’s wrong to leave people in suspense at the last minute. It’s not fair.’  

Ryanair refuse to help family-of-four after cancelling their flight from Spain to Manchester and leaving them with nowhere to stay 

Ryanair told a family of four they would have to wait a week for a plane home and offered them no help with accommodation or costs after cancelling their flight.

Stephen and Helen Smith, and Helen’s parents Stephen and Debbie Luckett, were appalled by their treatment when they turned up at Alicante airport on Saturday morning to fly back to Manchester after a two-week holiday in Spain.

They had to pay almost £1,000 for seats on an alternative flight with Vueling to Edinburgh on Saturday evening, a hotel and a hire car to drive home to Stockport on Sunday. 

Stephen and Helen Smith (pictured), and Helen¿s parents Stephen and Debbie Luckett, were appalled by their treatment when they turned up at Alicante airport on Saturday morning to fly back to Manchester after a two-week holiday in Spain

Stephen and Helen Smith (pictured), and Helen’s parents Stephen and Debbie Luckett, were appalled by their treatment when they turned up at Alicante airport on Saturday morning to fly back to Manchester after a two-week holiday in Spain

Mr Smith has vowed never to fly with Ryanair again.

The family was not contacted to say their flight had been cancelled before setting out for the airport on Saturday and last night had still not received any official communication from the company. 

Mr Smith, 33, his wife and his in-laws had paid £120 each for their return flights. He said that at the airport on Saturday they were offered a flight back to Manchester with Ryanair seven days later but no accommodation or allowances were offered.

An option of being put on stand-by for a flight to East Midlands Airport came to nothing when it emerged stand-by seats were no longer available. 

Mr Smith said Ryanair’s last idea was flying from other Spanish airports hundreds of miles away but without any options for transport.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk