Ryanair has lost a libel case it brought when the Supreme Court in Spain deemed that a consumer association was within its rights to call the airline “the lowest of the low” which “swindled and mocked its passengers”.
A panel of judges ruled that the group had made reasonable use of its right to freedom of expressing in defending consumers. The panel went further by saying that such “offensive comments” were justified because Ryanair’s “commercial practices have generated a notorious degree of dissent” among consumers.
The group, Facua, had criticised the way passengers had been treated by the carrier in a series of press statements, articles and comments made on radio shows.
Facua once dubbed Ryanair the “worst company of the year”.
The initial trial was held in Seville in 2012. There it was argued that the association was within its rights to defend consumers by talking about passenger complaints which the airline had not been able to disprove. The court found in Facua’s favour and Ryanair appealed twice against the decision.
Ryanair was also ordered to pay costs.
This was not the first time Ryanair challenged statements from Facua. In 2013 the airline lost a defamation claim against the group after it criticised Ryanair for a series in 2012 of incidents involving priority landings, reportedly due to fuel shortages.
Ryanair had sued Facua over a statement criticising the airline for “a policy of saving money in areas related to safety [which] put the lives of its passengers at stake”.