Hethertons Solicitors offers helping hand to passengers affected by flight cancellations

One of York’s leading law firms, Hethertons Solicitors, has said that it is standing by to help passengers affected by the cancellation of flights following the staffing issues at Ryanair and the closure of airline Monarch.

Thousands of passengers across the UK are believed to have been effected by the cancellations and rescheduling of both domestic and international flights by both airlines.

Hethertons have said that this can have an impact on a person’s paid holiday leave and that many people could be owed compensation.

Toby Conyers-Kelly, Head of Dispute Resolution at the firm, said: “When it comes to cancelled flights, there are very specific consumer rights put in place for flights offered by airlines within the EU.”

“These require that air operators pay out or provide a replacement service if there is a delay or a cancellation to a flight.”

He said that, for example, passengers had a legal right to either a full refund or a replacement flight to get to their destination if a flight is cancelled, which can be claimed at the airport on the day of departure or afterwards if a person was forced to book onward travel with another airline.

Passengers should also be helped with costs if the cancellation delays them two or more hours on the day of their flight and compensation may also be due.

“You’re legally entitled to compensation if the delay is the airline’s responsibility and the replacement flight delays your arrival by two or more hours or if your flight was cancelled up to seven days before you were due to depart,” added Toby.

The amount of compensation will depend on the date at which the flight was cancelled, the distance of the journey and the departure and arrival times of a rescheduled flight, he said.

It was revealed last month that Ryanair was experiencing a severe staff shortage as a result of poor scheduling.

According to media reports, a change in the way Ryanair determines employees’ holiday left it with too few pilots to cover all of its scheduled flights.

Meanwhile, Monarch has ceased trading following poor performance, which has led to 300,000 future bookings for flights and holidays being cancelled and an additional 110,000 passengers stranded overseas.

Hethertons Solicitors, which also specialise in employment law, added that the lessons from Ryanair were also important for many other businesses and their owners.  Those whose flights have been cancelled or changed could run into problems with time off from work.

“It is critical that employers understand their rights when it comes to changing or refusing holiday time,” said Jo Yeates, Head of Employment at Hethertons.

“Full-time employees and workers are legally entitled to 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday per year, but when that holiday is taken, is largely at the discretion of the employer.”

“Whilst employers must provide time in the year for employees to be able to take holiday, they are allowed to turn down a request for a holiday or even reschedule an employee’s time off.”

She said that business owners had to give a minimum period of notice if they intend to refuse or reschedule a holiday.

“Unless an employer has a policy covering it, the general rule for giving notice refusing holiday is at least the same number of days as the leave days requested, and to  make change a change to holiday arrangements the minimum notice should be at least twice as long as the leave that the staff member has requested,” Jo added.

“It is important that employers have clear rules set out in their employees’ contract of employment or employee handbook in order to ensure that they can manage holiday requests in a way that is best for their business, and to protect them from future Employment Tribunal claims.”