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European court rule airlines should compensate passengers for delays and cancellations

The European Court of Justice has ruled that airlines in the EU should pay compensation to passengers delayed on a ‘plane for more than three hours unless that delay is genuinely beyond the control of the airline. This week’s ruling was a confirmation of a similar decision made three years ago in a court case involving Air France.

Under European Union legislation passengers on flights within Europe are entitled to financial compensation for services that have been cancelled of delayed of between 250 and 600 euros.

The European Consumer Commission appealed to the European Commission to do more to ensure that judgements like that made by the ECJ are cemented so that they can be more effectively enforced. Monique Goyens, Director General of the BEUC, said a regulation review should concentrate on keyhole surgery rather than sweeping reforms. She added that regulators also needed to be prepared to withstand pressure from the airline industry to dilute the legislation.

Flight Delayed owner Raymond Veldkamp said the latest ruling was unlikely to make it any easier for passengers to get financial compensation for delays and cancellations because airlines are likely to continue to try and fob customers off with a free refreshment, meal or some vouchers instead of handing over the cash passengers are legally entitled to.

The ECJ has also told airlines that they are obliged to offer compensation to passengers unable to fly because of strikes. The court ruled that this did not come under the list of factors that are out of an airline’s control.

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