CAA v Ryanair: Aircraft Strikes are Not Extraordinary Circumstances

Following a trial held from 27th to 29th April 2021, the High Court yesterday handed down judgment confirming that industrial action by a carrier’s employees touching on their conditions of employment does not amount to an extraordinary circumstance for the purposes of Article 5(3) of Regulation (EC) 261/2004.  Accordingly, where flights are cancelled as the result of such strikes, carriers are liable to pay compensation to the affected passengers.  Regulation (EC) 261/2004 is retained EU legislation following Brexit and forms part of domestic law.
In 2018 flight and cabin crew employed by Ryanair went on strike during negotiations concerning their working arrangements.  As a result a large number of flights was cancelled.  Ryanair refused to pay compensation to the affected passengers, claiming that the strikes were extraordinary circumstances.  As a result, the Civil Aviation Authority commenced proceedings under Part 8 of the Enterprise Act 2002 for an Enforcement Order requiring compensation to be paid.
Kevin de Haan QC and Michael Coley acted for the CAA.