Ryanair is facing “enforcement action” for failing to give customers accurate information about their rights following hundreds of flight cancellations.
The low-cost carrier has been accused of falsely claiming that it did not have to re-route passengers on other airlines, particularly when there are no other services available.
According to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Ryanair also stopped short of providing details about its obligations to refund expenses incurred by passengers as a result of cancellations – such as meals, hotels and transfer costs.
It comes as the CAA said it was taking enforcement action against five big-name airlines for denying compensation for delayed flights after an ongoing investigation.
The CAA has warned it could take legal action against Ryanair for breaching consumer protection laws “if necessary”.
:: Latest Ryanair cancellations – Is your route affected?
Image: Ryanair is suspending more than 30 of its routes during the winter season
The regulator’s action comes after Ryanair announced it was cancelling 2,000 flights over a six-week period after the company miscalculated pilot leave.
On top of that, the company has now cancelled 34 routes over the winter season – a move that could affect as many as 400,000 customers.
Andrew Haines, chief executive of the CAA, said: “There are clear laws in place which are intended to assist passengers in the event of a cancellation, helping minimise both the frustration and inconvenience caused by circumstances completely out of their control.
“We have made this crystal clear to Ryanair, who are well aware of their legal obligations, which includes how and when they should re-route passengers, along with the level of information it provides its passengers.”
“The information Ryanair published today again fails to makes this clear.
“In expediting our enforcement action, we are seeking to ensure that Ryanair’s customers will receive the correct and necessary information, to make an informed choice about an alternative flight.”
On Wednesday Ryanair said it was suspending 34 routes for the winter season from November to March 2018.
Several routes popular with British travellers will be hit popular routes will be hit, including London Stansted to Edinburgh and Glasgow, Gatwick to Belfast, Newcastle to Faro, and Glasgow to Las Palmas.
Anger against Ryanair has mounted after it came under heavy fire when it recently shelved up to 50 flights every day for six weeks.
Michael O’Leary, the airline’s boss, has blamed the move on mismanagement of pilots’ annual leave which led over-allocation of blocks of holidays.
The carrier said the latest step will “eliminate all risk of further flight cancellations” as well as remove the risk of similar problems happening again next year.
Video: 400,000 passengers face new Ryanair flight cancellations
Mr O’Leary said in a statement: “We sincerely apologise to those customers who have been affected by last week’s flight cancellations or these sensible schedule changes announced today.”
It also plans to introduce a series of low-fare seat sales for winter 2017 as it is “confident that there will be no further roster-related cancellations”.
The company argued less than 1% of the 50 million customers Ryanair will carry this winter are impacted and all affected passengers have received an email alerting them and offering alternative flights or full refunds.
They have also received a £35 travel voucher.
The flight cancellations has so far cost the airline around £21m.
Airlines facing CAA action for not paying passengers compensation for delays include American Airlines, Emirates, Etihad, Singapore Airlines and Turkish Airlines.