Currently passengers in the EU have the right to claim compensation from airlines if their flight is delayed or cancelled. Depending on the difference in the scheduled arrival time and the actual time the plane reaches its destination, passengers can get between €250 and €600 as compensation, but airlines say this is too much.
The Czech Republic has taken over the presidency of the European Council and has hinted that this is one of the topics they want to bring to the table, Politico reports. The compensation rights have been in place for over 20 years and airlines have been arguing against them for almost as long. Now there is a chance they will be revised.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and A4E have estimated that refunds for unused plane tickets between March and May 2020 amounted to €9.2 billion in the EU and UK. Since recovery from the pandemic has proven difficult and many airline have been forced to cancel or delay flights, mostly due to labour shortages and strikes, they argue that now more than ever the rules have to be revised.
One of their main dissatisfactions is that the compensations are too high. “I think everyone would agree that if you pay €50 for the ticket, then you get €300 back, that’s not right. It doesn’t make sense”, said Thomas Reynaert, managing director of Airlines for Europe (A4E). Moreover, airlines argue that delays do not have that great an impact on passengers, or at least not enough to justify the compensation.
Airlines also highlight that European law states they are exempt from paying the contribution if the delay or cancellation was caused by extraordinary circumstances, however, these are not defined and cases frequently end up going to the European Court of Justice for clarification.
If you go from Lithuania to Portugal for €30 and you’re trapped there for two days between the flight, is it fair to receive just a few euros compensation? We need to keep the level of compensation and reinforce the enforcement.Steven Berger, legal officer BEUC
On the other hand, passenger rights organizations have pointed out that the high number of cased that end up in court is merely due to the airlines refusing to pay and that the rules need to be better enforced than reduced. “We need to keep the level of compensation and reinforce the enforcement”, said Steven Berger, a legal officer at Brussels-based consumer group BEUC, highlighting at the same time that delays can in fact have a great impact on consumers.