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Claim compensation for Ryanair strike, says Test-Achats
Passengers affected by this week's Ryanair strike in Belgium should file a claim for compensation, despite the budget airline insisting that it will not pay out, Belgian consumer protection watchdog Test-Achats has said.
Ryanair cancelled 600 flights on Wednesday and Thursday due to a cabin crew strike in Belgium, Portugal, Spain and Italy, affecting about 50,000 travellers.
An EU directive allows for compensation ranging from €250 to €600 for delayed and cancelled flights. But Ryanair said on Thursday that no compensation should be paid "when a union acts unreasonably and totally outside the control of the company".
The airline said: "Ryanair is fully compliant with European legislation, but since these cancellations were caused by exceptional circumstances, there will be no compensation."
Test-Achats disagrees. "An internal strike at an airline does not constitute a case of force majeure and therefore opens up the right to compensation," the group said.
The consumer association said it was prepared to take a class action lawsuit against Ryanair on behalf of passengers whose request for payment is rejected. "We are already looking at the most appropriate procedure for doing this," it added.
The "denied boarding" unit at Belgium's federal transport ministry - which oversees the application of the EU compensation rules - said Ryanair should pay out.
A spokeswoman said: "If it had been a strike by a third party - air traffic controllers, baggage handlers, customs or airport employees - then passengers are not entitled to a refund.
"But if it is the airline's own staff that goes on strike, you are entitled. A strike by airline personnel is an extraordinary circumstance, because it is up to the airline itself to do everything to keep its staff happy."
Photo: Eric Lalmand/Belga