A Spanish court has ordered budget carrier Ryanair to pay almost €31,000 in compensation to a woman who broke her leg in two places when she toppled down the aircraft stairs while disembarking a plane in Alicante.
The injured woman had to spend three days in hospital and underwent two surgical operations after she suffered a fractured tibia and fibula when she fell down the aircraft stairs in the February 2020 accident.
Ryanair is unusual in that many of its Boeing 737 aircraft are equipped with built-in steps that deploy from underneath the forward left-hand door. These integrated stairs negate the need for Ryanair to pay for the use of ground equipment, but they can be quite steep to navigate.
The budget Irish airline had, however, fought the lawsuit, arguing that the stairs were in perfect working order and that passengers had been given instructions on how to use the stairs before disembarking.
The injured woman had brought her claim against Ryanair under Article 17 of the Montreal Convention, which places liability on airlines for most injuries sustained by passengers following an inflight accident or during boarding and disembarking.
There are very few defences available to airlines to avoid liability and in this case, the Commercial Court of Seville ruled that it doesn’t matter what the cause of the accident was, or whether it was a result of the passenger’s negligence or failure to follow instructions.
Negligence on the part of the injured passenger could have been an exonerating circumstance for the airline but in this case, the court ruled that Ryanair had failed to prove passenger negligence.
The passenger had claimed €31,230 plus legal interest, but the court awarded €30,793, including €18,968 in personal injury compensation and €1,202 in medical costs.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.