RYANAIR has ruled out paying compensation to thousands of passengers affected by this summer's staff strikes, despite it being enshrined in EU law.
The Irish airline has been forced to delay or cancel hundreds of flights this month due to ongoing industrial action by pilots and cabin crew in Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Belgium and Italy.
More than 50,000 passengers have been affected at the peak of the summer holidaying season, but Ryanair say they aren't due compensation because the unions have acted "unreasonably".
A Ryanair spokesperson said: "Ryanair fully complies with all EU261 legislation, however as these flight cancellations were caused by extraordinary circumstances, no compensation is due.
"Under EU261 legislation, no compensation is payable when the union is acting unreasonably and totally beyond the airline’s control."
However, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) insist that strikes do not qualify as an "extraordinary circumstance" as they are within the airline's control.
EU Regulation 261 entitles passengers to payouts of €250 (£222) when short-haul flights are cancelled without a fortnight's notice, in addition to refunds or new flights - but Ryanair are standing firm.
Their refusal to pay up comes less than a year after the CAA threatened legal action over Ryanair's handling of compensation claims, when thousands of flights were cancelled over issues with its pilots' holiday rotas.
Ryanair also revealed today it will be cutting its Dublin-based fleet by 20% for the winter 2018 season - from 30 to 24 aircraft.
That announcement comes after cabin crew in Spain, Portugal and Belgium began their 48-hour strike yesterday, amid calls for increased pay, fairer working conditions, larger pensions and better job security.
Elsewhere, Ryanair pilots in Dublin have announced plans for their fourth walkout in as many weeks on August 3.