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Critical times for rights airline passengers

Brussels – The rights of air passengers have been increasingly expanded throughout the past years: consumers were already entitled to compensation if they experienced a long delay; today, the European Commission filed a proposal for amendment of the regulation on a few key points, extending these rights further. However, the proposal also includes a revision that would restrict these rights, contradicting earlier rulings by the European Court of Justice.Siim Kallas air passenger rights

Technical defects

Since the 23 October 2012 ruling, passengers have been entitled to receive compensation if their flight is delayed by 3 hours or more. Compensation can amount to as much as £525 (€600) per passenger, depending on the distance of the flight. But the legislation lacks clarity on one major point, namely ‘technical defects’. Establishing when a technical defect should be regarded as force majeure and when it is simply part of the airline’s operational responsibilities is particularly difficult for passengers. In the proposition, these conditions will be more clearly defined. Great news, says Raymond Veldkamp of Flight-Delayed.co.uk, the company that assists passengers in getting compensation: “In nearly 40% of all cases, airlines invoke extraordinary circumstances when a flight is delayed due to a technical defect. This proposal will put an end to that.”

Missed connection

The second major improvement of the proposed revision of current legislation is the rights that passengers have in the event of a missed connection. Under current law, passengers who miss their connecting flight due to a small delay of their initial flight aren’t entitled to any compensation, even if this causes them to arrive at their final destination much later than scheduled. The Commission is now proposing that passengers’ final total delay will be the deciding factor in determining whether compensation is due. If the delay exceeds what is legally allowed, passengers are entitled to be compensated.

Restriction passenger rights

The European Commission appears to be putting passenger rights first with these two revisions, much like the European Court of Justice has been doing. It is all the more surprising that the EC is also proposing to restrict these rights with another major amendment. The proposal contains an item that states that passenger won’t be entitled to compensation unless they experience a delay of 5 hours, which is a significant increase compared to the current minimum 3 hours. In the case of long-distance flights, this minimum would even be set at 9 or 12 hours. After many years of conflict and legal battle, passengers finally had some clarity about the complicated process of filing for compensation after the 23rd of October. If the proposal is approved, it may result in chaos within the airlines and local courts once again.Brian Simpson, President of the European Parliament’s Transport and Tourism Committee: “I very much doubt if Parliament would accept such a change. If anything, they might go the other way, because I know MEPs are frustrated with the way some airlines have tried to ignore the regulation.” The proposal was presented in Brussels today and will be reviewed in the European Parliament in the weeks and months to come.Written by: Team Flight Delayed