Review of flight compensation for domestic airline passengers Business News

The days of £220 payments to delayed passengers who only paid £30 for a domestic flight may soon be over.

The Department for Transport (DfT) is consulting on proposals to revise EU rules on air passenger rights for flights within the UK.

Post-Brexit, the legislation known as EC261 was broadly transposed into UK law, with the only change being the conversion of allowances from euros to pounds.

At present, any flight cancellation, overbooking or delay of three hours or more in arrival on a domestic flight results in a payment of £220, unless the airline can demonstrate that ‘extraordinary circumstances’ were responsible.

The compensation is fixed, regardless of the fare paid or whether the traveler arrives three or 24 hours late.

The plan is to align compensation with the length of the delay and the fare paid, as is the practice for rail disruptions.

Partial refunds would start only an hour late. The proposed scale is:

  • One hour to 1h59: 25% of the ticket price
  • Two hours to 2:59: 50% of the ticket price
  • Three hours or more: full ticket price

The overall effect is likely to significantly reduce the scale of compensation payments. A passenger paying just £30 for a domestic flight is unlikely to receive more than that.

But airlines fear compensation could become due regardless of the cause of the delays – removing the “extraordinary circumstances” defence. Most train operators reimburse delays even if they are beyond their control.

It is unclear whether the duty of care – which makes all airlines responsible for providing hotel accommodation and meals in the event of a long delay – will change.

Severe weather events can cost airlines hundreds of thousands of pounds.

There is also no clarity on compensation when the domestic flight is part of a longer international journey.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: ‘People deserve a service that puts passengers first when things go wrong, so today I launched proposals to strengthen consumer protections and rights for Airlines companies.

“We are making the most of our Brexit dividend with our new freedoms outside the EU, and this review will help build a trustworthy and reputable industry.”

The Minister also announced an overhaul of the out-of-court dispute resolution system, to make it easier for passengers to avoid going through legal channels to obtain the compensation they are owed, and increased powers for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to demand improvements from airlines.

Richard Moriarty, Chief Executive of the CAA, said: “We welcome the government’s action to improve air passenger rights.

“This consultation is a clear indication of the need to strengthen our enforcement powers and align ourselves with other regulators.

“The proposals will improve passenger rights and equip the CAA with the right tools to act quickly and effectively for the benefit of consumers.”

The consultation will also aim to provide wheelchair users with full compensation for damage caused during a domestic flight.

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This notice was published: 2022-04-02 15:51:10

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