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ECJ judgment on airline staff strikes: the law is the law, even for Ryanair

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ECJ judgment on airline staff strikes: the law is the law, even for Ryanair


  • Airlines should not avoid responsibility deriving from the European Court of Justice’s decision on strikes’ eligibility
  • All strikes by airline staff are affected by this decision and entitle impacted passengers to the right to claim compensation
  • Passengers who have experienced disruptions due to strikes in July on Ryanair are eligible to claim $39 million from the airline

New York, July 25, 2018 — The European Court of Justice ruled in April 2018 that airlines must compensate their passengers for flight delays and cancellations, even if the disruption was caused an airline staff strike. This decision applies to all previous airline strikes and new strikes. However, it has been reported that Ryanair declared they will not pay compensation following their current staff strikes, although more than 120,000 passengers are eligible to claim $39 million from Ryanair. Christian Nielsen, head of the legal department at AirHelp, the world’s leading passenger helper portal, explains that laws are not subject to cherry-picking:

“Until this year, airlines strikes of all kinds have been considered extraordinary circumstances that exempt airlines from their duty to pay compensation. The European Court of Justice finally ruled that even an illegal strike does not constitute an extraordinary event. This means that airlines must compensate their passengers with up to $700 per person if they were affected by flight delays or cancellations due to strikes by airline staff. This decision significantly strengthens European passenger law and is a milestone on our way towards fair air travel.

Despite this decision being binding for all European courts, Ryanair is now stating that they will not compensate their passengers for the hassle they’re facing due to disruptions caused by strikes. This is unacceptable in several ways: one, because passengers should be compensated for the inconveniences caused by an airline or its employees, and two, because the law is the law and is binding for everybody, not just when it is convenient. At AirHelp, it is our mission to fight for passenger rights, and we strongly call for all industry stakeholders to respect the laws.”

Flight problems: These are the passengers’ rights

In case of a delayed or canceled flight, in certain circumstances, passengers may be entitled to financial compensation of up to $700 per person. To be eligible, the departure airport must be within the EU, or the airline carrier must be based in the EU. If a flight meets this criteria, passengers may be eligible to claim compensation, even if they are from the U.S. or another country outside of the EU.Furthermore, the reason for the delay in flight operations must be caused by the airline. The right to financial compensation must be claimed within three years of the delayed date of the flight.

On the other hand, extraordinary circumstances such as storms, or medical emergencies mean that the operating airline is exempt from the obligation to compensate air passengers who experience disruptions.


About AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight compensation company, helping passengers to understand their rights and get compensation for delayed flights, canceled flights, and instances of denied boarding. Since launching in 2013, AirHelp has helped more than seven million people process airline compensation claims worth almost $930 million in total reimbursement. AirHelp has offices across the world, is available in 30 countries, offers support in 16 languages, and employs more than 500 employees globally.