Ryanair 'capitulates' over passenger rights for flight disruptions
Ryanair has agreed to implement measures to ensure all passengers affected by recent flight cancellations are "fully aware" of their "rights and entitlements".
This will include passengers receiving full refunds or being booked onto alternative Ryanair flights or "other comparable transport options", with reimbursement of "reasonable out-of-pocket expenses".
The airline made the statement after meeting with Ireland's Commission for Aviation Regulation.
The UK's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has accused the Dublin-based carrier of "not complying with the law" over its handling of the fiasco.
Ryanair has pledged to send a "clarification email" to customers outlining their rights and explaining how and when they will be booked onto other flights.
CAA guidelines state that if an airline cancels a flight it must offer passengers an alternative flight under European Union law.
Customers "may have the right" to be booked onto flights by an alternative airline if it would mean reaching their destination "significantly sooner".
Ryanair said that if it is not able to offer a flight on the same or next day from the original or "suitable alternative airport", then it will book passengers onto flights by easyJet, Jet2, Vueling, CityJet, Aer Lingus, Norwegian or Eurowings airlines.
If those options are not available then it will offer "comparable alternative transport" which may be a flight, train, bus or car hire, with costs "assessed on a case-by-case basis".
Ryanair said its statement met the requirement of the CAA to clarify the airline's obligations under EU261 rules.
It called upon the regulator to "now require UK airlines to comply", claiming the legislation "did not apply" to British Airways when 75,000 passengers were stranded following an IT meltdown in May.
Kenny Jacobs, Ryanair's chief marketing officer, said: "We apologise again sincerely for the disruption and inconvenience our rostering failure has caused some of our customers.
"We have taken on extra customer service staff and are moving now to process and expedite all EU261 claims from affected customers. We are committed to processing all such claims within 21 days of receipt and hope to have all such claims settled before the end of October."
CAA chief executive Andrew Haines said he was "furious" after Ryanair cancelled an extra 18,000 flights on Wednesday, a move that will hit 400,000 customers. The latest round of cancellations includes several popular routes used by UK travellers, including Gatwick to Belfast.
It adds to mounting anger against Ryanair, which was already coming under heavy fire after cancelling up to 50 flights a day earlier this month.
Passengers have expressed their frustration with the airline, with many left out of pocket due to a lack of alternative flights, and accommodation bookings they can no longer use.
Ryanair said the cancellations were brought about because of an error with pilot holiday rosters, and the latest reduction in its schedule will "eliminate all risk of further flight cancellations".
Speaking after Ryanair's decision to clarify its position, Mr Haines said: "Our job is to protect passengers' rights and ensure that all airlines operating in the UK are fully compliant with important consumer laws.
"Where we find that an airline is systematically flouting these rules, we will not hesitate to take action to minimise the harm and detriment caused to passengers, as we have done with Ryanair in recent days. It appears that Ryanair has now capitulated.
"We will review their position in detail and monitor this situation to ensure that passengers get what they are entitled to in practice."