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'Act of God' versus 'Act of EU', a bad day for Ryanair

The airlines like Ryanair argued it was an "act of God" but today an "act of court" dramatically clarified passengers rights when things go very badly wrong.

Ryanair plane lands at Dublin Airport Credit: Press Association

This story rose from the ashes of an Icelandic volcano, which closed Europe's airspace and grounded 100,000 flights. Already it has cost airlines 1.2 billion Euros. Ryanair argued that these events were so extraordinary normal passenger rights should be suspended. Today the EU courts disagreed.

Ryanair cancelled around 9,500 flights costing 32 million euros , including its payouts for passengers disruption. But it was attempting to set a limit to it's obligation to travellers.

Ryanair was ordered to pay compensation to passengers stranded after the 2010 volcano eruption Credit: Press Association

Ryanair argued this was so extraordinary it should be outside the normal rules on passengers payouts - today the court turned that argument on it's head saying that it is in just such extreme circumstances that travellers rights are most important.

But there is a twist to this meaning this may not be the consumer victory it first seems. Airlines are likely to add costs to their fares - already Ryanair has just such a levy. What's more, the EU is considering changing it's laws to limit payouts. It's been a bumpy ride through the courts - but it is not over yet.

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