Irish Ferries “disappointed” by NTA compensation order; will appeal

Irish Ferries has expressed its disappointment at the decision of Ireland’s National Transport Authority (NTA) to order Irish Ferries it to pay compensation to passengers affected by the cancellation of the WB Yeats services during the peak holiday season in 2018.

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

WB Yeats had been scheduled to join the Irish Ferries fleet during summer, but the company as forced to cancel thousands of bookings after what the ferry company described as “extraordinary circumstances beyond its control” led to a delay in the ship’s delivery.

WB Yeats was scheduled to run the Dublin-Cherbourg route from July, but in April 2018 Irish Ferries warned that it would be unable to fulfil a number of services.

The NTA investigated and has said that it was not convinced by Irish Ferries’ assertion that the unavailability of the ship was unavoidable.

Irish Ferries has in turn blamed the NTA for the company’s decision to withdraw from the ferry route from Rosslare to France.

Irish Ferries said that ongoing discussions with the NTA on the interpretation of EU regulations “has been a critical factor in regretfully concluding that we are unlikely to operate the Oscar Wilde to France out of Rosslare in 2019”. It said it would appeal the matter in the courts.

The NTA launched an investigation into the cancellations to see if the contravened European maritime regulations after receiving correspondence from passengers. The NTA said that “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 October 19th 2018 and authorized the serving of notices on Irish Ferries.

The Authority was not satisfied that the unavailability of WB Yeats was 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.

It directed Irish Ferries to pay compensation to impacted passengers who had 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 to Roscoff instead of Cherbourg.

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

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 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 would be unlikely to operate the Oscar Wilde to France out of Rosslare this year.