Brussels, 17 December 2013 - If your flight was delayed, you are entitled to compensation. Even though airlines have been fiercely opposed to this legislation, today the European Parliament voted in favour of intensifying air passenger rights rather than limiting them.
The European Parliament wants to expand and improve air passenger rights and stop the massive abuse of the term “extraordinary circumstances” by airlines. This point of view was confirmed today at the European Parliament's voting. However, the Parliament is considering amending the legislation on delays and the entitlement to compensation by raising the threshold for flight delays. In order for air passengers to be entitled to compensation, they would have to be delayed by:
- Three hours for flights up to 2500 km (€300 compensation)
- Five hours for flights up to 6000 km (€400) or
- Seven hours for flights up to 6000 km (€600)
The proposal to introduce 5-, 9- and 12-hour thresholds was rejected in the voting.
Vote European Parliament
The European Parliament signals the failure of airlines to comply with Regulation: airlines need to stop ignoring passengers' complaints and stop misusing the term “extraordinary circumstances” in their attempt to get out from paying compensation. Due to airlines not providing the necessary information, only 2% of all air passengers who are entitled to compensation decide to submit a claim. The Parliament is also demanding the National Enforcement Bodies to improve their performance and ensure the protection and assistance of air passengers. Although these measures will defend and improve passenger rights, the European Parliament also voted in favour of an amendment that will restrict these rights: if the proposal is approved at the upcoming plenary voting, passengers won't be entitled to compensation for flights of 2500 kilometres or more unless their flight is delayed in excess of 5 hours.
Right to compensation
Since 2004, air passenger rights have legally been set out in Regulation (EC) 261/2004. As a result of ambiguities in the legislation and conflicts between airlines and passengers, the European Commission opted to revise and better define the current legislation. Due to grey areas in the rules and legislation, air passengers lack the support of an objective third party that can ensure their rights in battling the airlines are adequately protected, says Tom van Bokhoven, representative for Flight-Delayed.co.uk, a company specialised in assisting air passengers. Airline companies have been trying for years to reverse the improvements made in air passenger rights, but after today's vote, it doesn't seem likely this will happen.
Brian Simpson, President of the European Parliament’s Transport and Tourism Committee (TRAN), previously commented that Regulation 261/2004 isn’t called ‘Regulation for airline rights’, and for a good reason. He stated: 'It’s called ‘Regulation establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers, and that means we should protect passengers, period.'
The legislative resolution was approved by 37 against 3 votes. The plenary vote is scheduled for 4 February, in order to allow time to negotiate a first-reading agreement with Council.
Written by: Team Flight-Delayed.co.uk