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Ryanair gets tough on ash cloud claims

Ryanair has warned that it will not entertain "back of an envelope" claims for expenses resulting from the recent volcanic ash disruption.

Passengers delayed by the disruption in April have now been asked by the airline to complete an online expenses claim form and to include "all the original VAT-registered receipts" to support their claim.

"On receipt of the required documentation, we will work with our insurance assessment team to process valid reasonable claims," claimants have been informed by email.

But the carrier has rejected suggestions that its insistence on "VAT-registered" receipts from customers was just a ploy to make it more difficult for passengers to make claims.

Irish airlines have estimated the cost of meeting claims arising from the ash disruption at more than €71m. Ryanair said it had already processed more than 1.1 million claims and was currently processing about 100,000 additional claims from passengers while Aer Lingus is dealing with more than 280,000 claims.

Ryanair spokesman Stephen McNamara said the airline would be insisting on legitimate receipts from hotels, restaurants and so on, "not the back of an envelope saying two meals, no alcohol: €250".

But the reference to VAT-registered receipts has given rise to concerns to some passengers who were forced to wait out the delays at privately rented apartments rather than hotels.

But Mr McNamara said it was an issue between passengers and their accommodation provider, who should be able to issue the required receipts.

"This method is the only way of insuring legitimate claims," he said.

The Aviation Regulator, who will intervene if necessary in any dispute over expense claims, said passengers should submit genuine and legitimate expenses along with the paperwork to support the claim.

Meanwhile, airlines could be given more leeway to decide how best to avoid volcanic ash clouds under new Europe-wide guidelines to be unveiled by the end of the month.

A further easing of the restrictions that closed much of Europe's airspace for six days in April should reduce the disruption caused by any future eruptions of the Icelandic volcano. Under the framework, pilots will decide how best to avoid ash clouds, based on the capabilities of the aircraft they are flying and forecasts of where ash can be expected.

Source Irish Independent

Belfast Telegraph