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The Court of Appeal has handed down a judgment holding that Ryanair is liable to compensate passengers whose flights were affected by certain strikes by Ryanair’s employees in 2018.

The Civil Aviation Authority brought enforcement proceedings against Ryanair under Part 8 of the Enterprise Act 2002 in respect of its failure to compensate affected passengers under Regulation EC 261/2004. Ryanair claimed that the strikes amounted to “extraordinary circumstances” under Article 5(3) of that Regulation so as to relieve it of the obligation to pay compensation. The Court of Appeal held that, while strikes by an airline’s employees were capable of amounting to extraordinary circumstances, the strikes in question did not. In particular, neither the involvement of trade unions nor the novelty or unreasonableness of the unions’ demands were sufficient to render the strikes extraordinary.

The judgment contains important guidance on the scope of Regulation EC 261/2004 which will be of general importance for airlines. It further involves consideration of post-Brexit judgments of the CJEU under s. 6 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. Although the Court of Appeal had regard to and reached a decision consistent with one such authority, it indicated the possibility of divergence from another.

A copy of the judgment can be found here.

Brian Kennelly QC and Tom Coates acted for Ryanair DAC.

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