Eyjafjallajökull sends a cloud of dust into the sky. Airlines are grounded, and start to grumble. Now we hear that Ryanair, the veteran of the tantrum that has made a successful business model of throwing its toys out of the pram, wants special treatment. Specifically, exemption from EU rules requiring them to look after delayed passengers.
Well, no sympathy here. You know the rules, and have often sought to bend them to the limits. If your business model lacks contingency or insurance, that’s your failure. Any special treatment now would be a kick in the teeth for the competition who make provision for a disaster, as well as for whoever loses out, be it your customers or the taxpayer.
More sympathy for individuals who are stranded. Those who reasonably thought themselves insured only to face substantial uninsured costs have a legitimate grievance.
Let’s just hope the politicians don’t meddle in this. If government were dictating fly/no fly, or changing the rules on the flyhoof, then the airlines could legitimately claim against them (or rather, the long-suffering taxpayer). That doesn’t necessarily mean they’d get anything (Railtrack or Northern Rock shareholders had valid claims that they sustained losses due to government action and should therefore be compensated), but it’s a mess. So long as we stick with an existing non-political framework to control the matter, it remains a clean commercial issue between the airlines and their insurers.
What, no insurance? Whose fault is that? Not the taxpayers! Your problem – you deal with it. Though I fear those airlines that richly deserve to go bust (chiefly BA and Ryanair) may alas not be the ones to do so.
Longer-term, this may be a Very Good Thing. Maybe finally Alice can start to get her way somewhere more mainstream!