European Commission proposal restricts airline passengers’ rights

13 March 2013

European Commission proposal restricts airline passengers’ rights

The European Commission today presented its new plans regarding the rights of airline passengers in the event of delays and other problems.

The new plans would mean serious restrictions on the rights which passengers can currently demand via the courts. Commenting, SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong says, ‘If you are stranded for more than three days or are flying less than 250 kilometres then according to the new proposals the airline will no longer be responsible. That could cause major problems and sky-high costs for stranded air travellers.’

The proposals also restrict other rights. ‘In the past passengers had the right to financial compensation in the event of a delay of more than three hours,’ says De Jong. ‘Now the Commission is proposing that this should be limited to delays of five hours for flights of less than 3500kms, nine hours for flights up to 6.000kms and twelve hours for other flights. This will mean an enormous reduction in the number of claims, which represents a boost for the airlines, and a huge step backwards for the passenger.'

The European Court of Justice last year ruled in favour of passengers in conflicts with airlines. As a result the costs for these airlines have risen, an argument to which the European Commission is receptive, as is shown in the explanatory statement accompanying their proposals. 'Not only that but airlines will be working hard to thwart passengers who want to take advantage of their rights,’ says De Jong. ‘Instead of maintaining the existing rules the Commission thinks that by reducing passengers’ rights they will improve the situation. That’s just wishful thinking, in view of the intense competition in air transport.’

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