THOUSANDS of Ryanair passengers will find out next week if they are entitled to compensation following a series of strikes.
The Commission for Aviation Regulation said it will issue a decision to 37 passengers who made claims for compensation as a result of industrial action by pilots.
Its decision will be watched closely by Irish passengers whose flights were cancelled after the UK aviation authority revealed it is taking action to force the airline to pay compensation to customers.
The Civil Aviation Authority has found that the strikes were not exempt from EU rules and has begun enforcement action against the airline.
It said the strikes were not “extraordinary circumstances,” which would exclude the airline from having to pay compensation.
Ryanair had to cancel hundreds of flights during the busy summer season in Ireland and across Europe due to strikes by pilots and cabin crew.
Some 170,000 customers were hit by the industrial action across Europe, and around 17,500 of these were booked on flights between Ireland and the UK.
It suffered the effects of industrial action after recognising unions for the first time last year.
Ryanair has been adamant that it is not liable to pay compensation, which can be sought even if the strike-afflicted get a refund or were accommodated on an alternative flight.
The Irish Commission for Aviation Regulation said it asked the budget airline to outline its reasons for non-payment.
“Over recent months we have engaged with Ryanair and sought clarification on the issue,” said the commission in a statement.
“We have now reached the end of this process.
“We will issue a decision to Ryanair and the affected passengers next week. As this is a legal process it would be inappropriate to comment further until that decision has been outlined in full to the affected parties.”
It said there were a number of court decisions elsewhere on the issue that it has noted.
On Friday, a meeting of European Regulatory Authorities will take place that will give all regulators an opportunity to share their information and insight, it said.
“As we knew the timing of this meeting we decided that the final stage of our deliberative process would be to lay out our thoughts in conjunction with our counterparts and then outline a final decision,” it said.
“We believe this is the fairest and most robust course of action to take in the interest of passengers and to ensure that all decisions are fully informed.”
Ryanair said courts in Germany, Spain and Italy have already ruled that strikes are an “extraordinary circumstance” and EU261 compensation does not apply.
“We expect the UK CAA and courts will follow this precedent,” it said.