Ryanair has been slapped with a €3 million fine after failing to provide its passengers with drinks, meals and accommodation during the Icelandic volcano crisis.
Italy’s aviation authority ENAC said it found 178 cases where the carrier did not look after its stranded passengers between April 17 and 22nd at the height of ash cloud problem.
ENAC said other carriers helped their passengers, but Ryanair abandoned theirs in Rome, leaving Italian authorities to help them instead.
Reuters reported the carrier has since announced it will appeal against the “biased” fine.
Ryanair claims that it never received an official notification from ENAC and had not been told of any violations or given a change to defend itself during an investigation, making the fine unlawful.
It said it had offered hotel accommodation to disrupted passengers in Italy and those who were not, were advised to submit a reimbursement claim to Ryanair, in compliance with EU rules.
“At a time when all airlines across Europe were cancelling thousands of flights and disrupting millions of passengers, it is extraordinary that ENAC could investigate and then impose a three million euro fine only upon Ryanair,” said the airline’s spokesman Stephen McNamara.
“This would appear to be the latest in a long series of biased, anti-Ryanair rulings by ENAC, an organisation which has repeatedly shown its bias and lack of impartiality when it comes to cases relating to Ryanair.”
The dispute highlights the continued call for a modification of airline care requirements to passengers by the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA).
“This is an act of God, completely outside of the control of airlines,” said IATA chief executive Giovanni Bisignani last month regarding the volcano crisis.
“But with the current regulation, airlines are bearing the complete burden for hotel, food and telephone.“The regulation was never meant to be applied to these situations. It is urgent that the European Commission finds a way to ease this unfair burden.”
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: J.L