Ryanair to Sue Protesters for £2 Million (US$3m)?
Airline to Pursue Legal Action to Recoup Damages?
Feelings have been running high about the future of aviation in the UK. We’ve seen the Conservative Party coming out against a new Heathrow runway, we’ve seen anti-aviation protesters scaling the Parliament building, and we’ve even seen flightless penguins joining the flying and climate change debate. But one controversial tactic of protesters, namely invading the country’s runways, may end up a little more expensive than they had planned, at least if Irish airline Ryanair has its way. According to The Guardian, 22 campaigners were up in court for damages caused during a runway occupation at Stansted Airport in the early hours of the 8th of December. While the protesters claim they were making a last ditch attempt to avert climatic disaster, the judge felt that their beliefs were no excuse for their actions. But it’s not just the judge they have to worry about:
Meanwhile lawyers working for Ryanair have lodged a compensation claim for €2.5m (£2.2m) with the police. Police statements seen by the Guardian show the airline is claiming for loss of revenue after it had to cancel 57 flights on 8 December, and is also seeking €500,000 for "reputational damage".
Neither Ryanair nor BAA ruled out suing the protesters in the civil courts. A spokesman for the airline said the compensation bill had been sent to BAA. "At the moment our claim is against Stansted, but we would not rule out seeking compensation from other parties at a later date," said a spokesman.
BAA said it did not rule out pursuing the protesters in the courts. "We are aware of Ryanair's claim and it's currently being dealt with by our legal team. At this stage those arrested are still subject to court proceedings so it is too early to comment on any possible legal action against the protesters."
Whether or not disrupting the operation of airports is a justified tactic in the fight against climate change, or a dangerous distraction from the debate, protesters will be livid at the prospect of paying into the coffers of Ryanair – an airline whose owner Michael O’Leary has repeatedly sought to ridicule environmental concerns. Joe Ryle, an eighteen year old, told The Guardian "If Ryanair wins we'll be paying money to Michael O'Leary for decades, and all because we think our parents' generation failed us, so we decided to actually do something about climate change.
Now imagine the court case if they ever find the guy who single-handedly shut down a power plant...