Besieged Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O’Leary said those responsible for shutting airspace should foot passenger compensation bills rather than airlines, at a Manchester Airport appearance today.
Speaking to MM, Mr O’Leary dismissed the European Court of Justice’s decision to blame his airline for a passenger’s financial costs during the 2010 Icelandic ash cloud crisis as a ‘crazy ruling’.
He also claimed passengers will be hit financially by the move in the end, as air fares will inevitably go up.
Denise McDonagh should have had her seven-day wait in Faro paid for by Ryanair as they still had an ‘obligation of care’, according to judges.
The ruling means Manchester holidaymakers who have yet to be compensated for ash cloud disruption could launch legal challenges against the airlines whose flights were cancelled.
Mr O’Leary said the government should pay compensation over what he described as the ‘non-existent’ ash cloud because they opted to shut airspace.
“The airlines are not responsible for everyone else’s screw-up,” he said.
“It would be like giving car drivers a claim against Toyota for a traffic jam on the M25. It’s mad.”
The Irishman, whose company are famed for launching innovative cost-cutting measures to keep their fares the lowest, added that passengers will suffer eventually because of the move.
“Airlines are going to be besieged with many more claims for flight delays that are not their fault, which will directly increase airlines’ costs.
There’s only one thing they can do and that is pass it on to passengers, either in the form of levies or higher air fares.”
Mr O’Leary also attacked air traffic control, who he claimed bedevilled European airspace all summer and inflicted ‘torture’ on passengers by striking.
“Unions of the air traffic control staff should provide compensation (when their staff striking grounds planes). If that was the case here would never again be an air traffic control strike.”
In a statement, Ryanair said: “Ryanair regrets the decision of the European Court which now allows passengers to claim for flight cancellations which are clearly and unambiguously outside of an airline’s control.”
They added the move means airlines are now effectively the ‘insurer of last resort’, with insurance companies escaping liabilities in the event of ‘acts of God’.
Mr O’Leary was at Manchester Airport to announce record advance bookings for this summer, including five new routes Ryanair are set to launch.