Ryanair and easyJet have told the Transport Select Committee they have paid out millions in ‘right to care’ expenses to customers affected by the NATS air traffic control system failure over the August bank holiday weekend.
They were among airline representatives who spoke to MPs this morning about the incident, on 28 August.
During their appearance, they criticised NATS over a delay in communication, with Airlines UK Chief Executive Tim Alderslade saying he first heard about the problems on Sky News.
He told the committee the industry had ‘very poor communication from NATS’, which ‘impacted us in terms of our ability to contact customers’.
Ryanair Group CEO Michael O’Leary said the airline paid out £15 million in right to care expenses for affected customers.
He said 350 Ryanair flights were cancelled and 1,000 flights were delayed.
EasyJet did not reveal how much it had paid out to consumers, but Chief Commercial Officer Sophie Dekkers said the cost was similar to that of Ryanair.
She said 599 flights were cancelled – 511 on bank holiday Monday and 88 the following morning – with 110,000 customers affected.
Loganair Chief Executive Jonathan Hinkles said its right to care bill hit £300,000 in five hours, adding: “We don’t have that kind of money to lose in the space of five hours.”
He added: “Communications from NATS were absolutely non-existent. The only thing that has been worse than the failure itself has been the communication from NATS.”
However, the airline bosses said the overall costs are far higher than the money paid out in right to care expenses, with Michael O’ Leary describing them as ‘incalculable’.
The airline bosses told MPs they want NATS to reimburse them for the money they have paid out to affected customers.
Michael O’ Leary said: “We think it’s reasonable and fair that NATS reimburses us.”