EU adopts new passenger rights guidelines

 European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker. / AFP PHOTO / JOHN THYS

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker. / AFP PHOTO / JOHN THYS

The European Commission has adopted new air passengers rights guidelines that will clarify the existing rules and facilitate their application.

According to the guidelines, passengers have a right to compensation after a delay of three hours at the final destination.

The report added that travellers, who missed a connection within the EU, or outside the EU with a flight coming from an airport of a Member State, should be entitled to compensation, if they arrived at final destination with a delay of more than three hours. Whether the carrier operating the connecting flights is an EU carrier or not it is not relevant.

It continued that, if a flight takes off and “for whatever reason, being subsequently forced to return to the airport of departure where the passengers of the said aircraft are transferred onto other flights” it is considered a cancellation.

Also, if a flight is diverted to an alternate airport, it is considered as a cancelation, unless passengers are rerouted to the final destination later or the alternate airport is in the same city and the transportation to the original airport is provided.

It noted that a mechanical fault of an aircraft, plane collisions with other aircraft/devices are not considered as “extraordinary circumstances” meaning that airlines cannot be exempted from the payment of compensation in case of a cancellation and delay.

“The guidelines published today will bring further clarity and legal certainty to ensure that the rules are applied properly. All EU citizens travelling by plane should receive the level of protection they are entitled to,” said the EU Commissioner for Transport, Violeta Bulc.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) also welcomed the new guidelines but stated there is more to be done.

“Everybody is frustrated when travel plans are disrupted. Passenger rights should be fair, simple, consistently applied and aligned with global standards. Todays’ guidelines will help with the consistent application.

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