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Irish Ferries to take NTA to court after being ordered to pay compensation over cancellations

The National Transport Authority issued the notices today ordering Irish Ferries to pay compensation.

Image: Eamonn Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

THE NATIONAL TRANSPORT Authority (NTA) has issued notices to Irish Ferries ordering it to pay compensation to passengers affected by the cancellation of the WB Yeats services last summer.

The new vessel had been planned to join the Irish Ferries fleet last summer, but the company was forced to cancel thousands of bookings as “extraordinary circumstances beyond its control” led to the delay of the ship’s delivery.

The WB Yeats was to serve the Dublin-Cherbourg service from July but Irish Ferries flagged as early as April that it wouldn’t be able to fulfill a number of services.

Following an investigation, however, the NTA has said that it wasn’t satisfied the unavailability of the ship couldn’t have been avoided.

Irish Ferries has said it is “disappointed” with the NTA’s issuing of notices, and said it will appeal the matter in the courts.

Maritime regulation

After receiving correspondence from passengers, the NTA launched an investigation into the cancellations to see if it contravened European maritime regulations. 

It said: “The Board of the Authority formed the opinions that Irish Ferries failed or is failing to comply with and has infringed or is infringing Article 18 and Article 19 of the Maritime Regulation on 19 October 2018 and authorised the serving of notices on Irish Ferries.

The Authority was not satisfied that the unavailability of ‘WB Yeats’ is an extraordinary circumstance hindering the performance of the cancelled passenger services which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken.

These notices direct Irish Ferries to pay compensation to impacted passengers who’d already requested compensation for the delay in arriving at their destination, and to passengers who incurred additional costs in travelling to/from Rosslare instead of Dublin or Roscoff instead of Cherbourg.

Irish Ferries has a period of two months to comply with the notices.

‘Every reasonable action’

In a statement this evening, Irish Ferries reiterated its stance that the cancellations were due to “extraordinary circumstances which were completely outside of the company’s control”.

“In dealing with its customers Irish Ferries believes it took every reasonable action to provide passengers with alternative travel options, from a no-quibble immediate refund to allow them to make alternative travel plans, as well as alternative sailings on the Oscar Wilde out of Rosslare Europort and Land bridge alternatives via the UK,” it said.

It also said that its ongoing discussions with the NTA regarding the interpretation of EU regulation had been a “critical factor” in its “regretful” conclusion that it will be unlikely to operate the Oscar Wilde to France out of Rosslare this year.

Irish Ferries also accused the NTA of contributing to making the route “commercially unviable” in the future.

It said it would be contesting these orders from the NTA in the courts, including the European Courts of Justice if needed.

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Sean Murray

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