Ryanair agrees to compensate ash-cloud passengers

BUDGET airline Ryanair is today backing down and vowing to comply with European regulations, agreeing to fully compensate passengers caught up in the ash-cloud crisis.

Chief executive Michael OLeary said yesterday they would only reimburse travellers the original price of their air fare and no more.

Backing down the no-frills airline, today said they would comply with the regulations under which EU airlines are required to reimburse the “reasonable receipted expenses of disrupted passengers.”

The change of heart came as hundreds of Britons stranded overseas by the airport shutdown were beginning to arrive back in the UK.

The repatriation efforts were boosted by airlines and airports returning to a near-normal service today and the arrival of a #500 million new cruise ship at the Spanish port of Bilbao where it was picking up hundreds of tourists in a rescue mission.

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Mr O’Leary said today: “The events of the last seven days, under which Europe’s airlines were prevented from flying by the closure of European airspace, highlight how absurd and discriminatory the EU261 regulations are towards Europe’s airlines.

“While competitor ferry, coach and train operators are obliged to reimburse passengers reasonable expenses, this reimbursement is limited to the ticket price paid to those operators.

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“Yet the airlines are required by regulation to meet potentially unlimited expenses, in circumstances where there has been a catastrophic closure of European airspace over the past seven days, as EU governments and regulators wrongly applied a blanket ban on flights over European airspace.

He added: “Ryanair has long campaigned for these reimbursements under passenger rights legislation to be limited to the ticket price paid in the same way they are for train, coach and ferry operators.

“We will continue to work through the European Low Fares Airlines Association and other industry bodies to persuade the European Commission and the European Parliament to alter this regulation to put this reasonable limit on these reimbursement claims.”

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