Ash is never far from the minds of European airline bosses these days, as one by one they report the losses their airlines have incurred. No surprise then that in announcing full year results, always colorful Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary had some choice words for regulators for closing down ash.
More interesting, though, is that O’Leary says two of the airline’s aircraft did see ash effects -- at least a dusting of ash. Ironically, as he points out, the dusting came as some of Europe’s airspace was shut down, but the two aircraft that were affected were in airspace regulators had deemed clear of ash.
Interesting, too, is that O’Leary’s focus, unlike some other airlines, is not on recovering the €50 million in ash-related costs the low-fare carrier has suffered. Instead, he says, the emphasis needs to be on revising passenger rights regulations.
O’Leary, somewhat surprisingly, says he’s not against passenger rights rules, but wants an “act of god” clause under which airlines would not have to pay in the case of natural disaster; it’s an exclusion granted insurers and other modes of transport, he says, so airlines should be treated the same.
O’Leary also wants the amount of compensation to be paid tied to ticket prices.
Ryanair initially threatened to refuse to pay claims under European passenger rights law, but then changed its mind. Still, O’Leary says he will take some of the most outrageous claims to court to make the case that some of the claims are unreasonable. One example, he says, is a passenger who paid 34 euros for a Ryanair flight and now has submitted 2,900 euros in compensation claims.