Ryanair is to impose a new levy on passengers to offset the cost of compensation mandated under Euroepan Union legislation for delays or cancellations of flights.

The Irish low-cost carrier says it suffered extraordinary costs of more than €100 million ($141 million) in 2010. These involved 15,000 flights and more than 2.4 million passengers.

Most of the delays and cancellations were due to three sets of external events - the Icelandic volcanic ash incident; snow closures of many European airports in late 2010; and more than 15 days of national air traffic control strikes.

"It is unfair and discriminatory that airlines are made liable for providing refunds, meals, hotels and phone calls during ATC strikes, bad weather airport closures or (volcanic) airspace closures when even travel insurance companies avoid liability during these 'force majeure' events and when competing transport providers (rail, ferries and coach operators) have no such 'force majeure' liability," says the carrier.

As a result, it is imposing a €2 levy on all bookings made from 4 April. It says it regrets passing on the burden to passengers but that it must recover its "extraordinary costs".

Ryanair calls for airlines to be relieved of the compensation burden when delays are neither the responsibility nor fault of carriers.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news