On 20 September 2017, the Italian Competition Authority launched a proceeding against the Irish airline Ryanair for unfair commercial practices, in breach of the Italian Consumer Code.
During the period from 20 September 2017 to 28 October 2017 Ryanair cancelled many flights. On 18 September approximately 315,000 customers received email notices advising them of their flight changes and offering alternative flights and refunds, together with notices of the Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights. Furthermore, by the update published by Ryanair it is clear that the airline expects to process over 300,000 alternative routings or refunds for customers (over 95% of affected customers) within six days of customers being notified of these flight cancellations.
However, according to the Italian Competition Authority, the numerous flight cancellations carried out or to be carried out in the coming weeks could constitute a breach of the duty of care referred to in Article 20 of the Italian Consumer Code, in so far as these measures would be based on organisational and managerial reasons already known to the professional, and not on occasional and external causes beyond his control.
The Italian Competition Authority has also contested the level and the modalities of the information with which Ryanair informed the passengers of the flight cancellations and offered them possible solutions (refund or flight changes). This procedure could mislead consumers on their monetary compensation rights under the Regulation No 261/2004 in the event of flight cancellations.