Thursday

20th Sep 2018

New EU passenger rules give airlines more time

  • EU source: 'Five hours gives the airlines the incentive to solve the problem' (Photo: andynash)

New EU passenger rights will allow airlines more time to repair or call in new aircraft before having to pay out compensation.

The rules, proposed by the European Commission on Wednesday (13 March), would extend the deadline from the current three hours to five hours for all intra-EU flights and short international flights of less than 3,500 km.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

“The evidence we have is that five hours gives the airlines the incentive to solve the problem,” said an EU source.

The EU official said the current three-hour threshold forces some airlines to cancel the flight altogether to avoid paying out the more costly fines.

“The aim is to get passengers where they want to be as quickly as possible while giving airlines the time they need to sort problems out,” EU transport commissioner, Siim Kallas, told reporters in Brussels.

For his part, the transport spokesperson of the Green group in the European parliament, Keith Taylor, in a statement on Wednesday said the commission’s proposal “is clearly a totally wrongheaded approach”.

Taylor says the commission is bowing into pressure by low-cost aircraft carriers to increase the delay compensation time.

He says the Brussels-executive needs to focus more on transparent information on rights for all passengers and on enforcement, instead.

A survey in Denmark by the Danish Consumer Council found that only between two to four percent of polled passengers entitled to financial compensation had received any money.

Meanwhile, airlines receive direct and indirect subsidies.

Tax exemptions from energy taxation and VAT saves the industry around €30 billion annually, says Taylor.

“Financial constraints can therefore be no excuse for failing to guarantee passenger rights,” he says.

In other new rules, stranded passengers, even under so-called "extraordinary circumstances" such as the 2010 Eyjafjallajokull volcanic eruption in Iceland, will only have the right to a maximum three nights lodging.

The commission’s three-night accommodation limit would not apply to disabled people, unaccompanied children and pregnant women, however.

Under current rules, air carriers must provide refreshments, meals and accommodation for an indefinite period of time.

Eyjafjallajokull's combined extra cost to EU airlines was estimated at almost €1 billion in less than a week. The amount is roughly 1.5 times the cost for care and assistance in a regular year.

A similar scenario with no limitations could force some airlines into bankruptcy, says the commission.

New and reinforced rights

Meanwhile, other provisions in the proposals improve passenger rights.

The definition of extraordinary circumstances is refined to problems that occur outside the control of the airline.

This includes strikes by air traffic controllers and natural disasters but not technical problems identified during routine aircraft maintenance.

Passengers would have the right to renounce their travel after a five hour delay and have the ticket price reimbursed. If people are stuck on a plane at the airport for more than one hour, they must have free drinking water, toilet facilities, adequate heating and cooling.

Carriers will also now have to reroute a passenger if he will not arrive at his final destination within 12 hours of scheduled arrival time.

The delay is still too long for some.

The FIA, a consumer body that represents the interest of its 36 million members as motorists, public transport users, pedestrians and tourists, says the 12-hour delay “is an unnecessarily long time period for passengers to wait.”

EU to propose scrapping summer time change

Based on the preliminary results of an online survey in which mostly Germans took part, the EU executive is proposing that the whole EU stops changing times in March and October.

Investigation

How to get around the EU posted workers directive

Some EU careworkers in Belgium receive around €400 a month - despite their carers paying €2,500 a month and paying for flights and accommodation. The answer lies in how firms can skirt the safeguards in the EU's posted workers directive.

Feature

Resetting the gender balance through football

Many sports, like football, have been so heavily male-dominated at every level that women and girls have battled against poor odds to be treated as equals in the game. FIFA aims to change that.

News in Brief

  1. Greece to move asylum-seekers from overcrowded Lesbos camp
  2. Transatlantic soya trade soars due to trade wars
  3. EU tables strategy for connecting Europe and Asia
  4. Bulgaria backs Hungary in dispute with EU
  5. Trump urged Spain to build Sahara wall to stop migrants
  6. EU-Arab League summit proposed for February in Egypt
  7. Stop 'migration blame-game', Tusk tells EU leaders
  8. McDonald's Luxembourg tax deal 'compatible' with EU rules

EU gets record response on 'summertime' consultation

The EU Commission has received several million responses from citizens, businesses, and organisations on whether to end the daylight summertime savings. Any tangible change would take ... time.

Exclusive

Women shun EU-funded site for female entrepreneurs

Wegate.eu, which received €1.2m in EU money since its launch almost two years ago, has less than a thousand registered users - from a possible target audience of at least 10 million.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  4. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  5. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  6. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  7. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  8. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  9. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  10. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  12. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want

Latest News

  1. EU divisions on menu at Salzburg dinner
  2. EU mulls action to prevent cattle suffering at Turkish border
  3. Safeguarding Schengen at Salzburg
  4. Denmark's image 'damaged' by bank scandal
  5. Real Brexit progress needed by October, Barnier says
  6. Poland to face EU top court on rule of law
  7. Austria's EU presidency: a bridge over troubled water?
  8. EU promotes 'Egypt model' to reduce migrant numbers

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  2. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  4. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  5. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  8. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  10. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  12. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us