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Ryanair Adds Fee to Cover Taking Care of Passengers

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Ryanair announced it will add a €2 fee (about $2.85, see xe.com for current conversion) to all tickets sold on or after April 4. What is this fee for? I'll let Ryanair explain it.

Ryanair ... announced it would introduce a €2 levy per passenger for all bookings made from Monday 4th April 2011 in order to fund its costs of flight cancellations, delays and its EU261 costs in "force majeure" cases where the airline is not responsible for either the delays or cancellations.

EU261 refers to a European Union (EU) law requiring airlines to provide assistance and compensation for cancellations and delays, including those caused by force majeure events, such as weather and natural disaster. There have been quite a few such events in the past 12 months, including the volcano in Iceland, all of which, Ryanair says, tallied up a €100 million tab for the airline.

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Not surprisingly, Ryanair thinks the law is a bit, well, daft. In a statement, it said the "unfair and discriminatory elements of the ... regulations should be amended to relieve airlines of the burden of providing care in cases where the cancellations and/or delays are clearly not the responsibility or fault of the airlines."

So, to make a point (and to make its money back), Ryanair is placing the burden of paying for these costs on the consumer.

There are two ways of looking at this. First, €2 is far less than the cost of a hotel or meal, nevermind the cash compensation levels mandated by the law, which start at €250. So for €2, passengers get the assurance that they'll be taken care of if a volcano disrupts their flight. Absent a law requiring this, €2 would be a bargain.

Or, one could say Ryanair is punishing customers for the EU's legislation, and essentially copping out on its legally mandated financial responsibilities. Your pick.

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