A leading EU judge has said that passengers whose flights are delayed by more than three hours should receive compensation from airlines.
Advocate General Yves Bot argued that payouts for delayed flights should match those for cancellations, up to a figure of £480.
The judge dismissed a joint challenge by British Airways, easyJet and Thomson Holidays owner TUI, and instead made a recommendation to the EU’s Court of Justice that passengers should be paid between £200 and £480 in compensation. The amount paid would be dependent on the distance passengers are travelling.
Current legislation, which was introduced in 2004, states that passengers who have been denied boarding, or whose flights have been cancelled, have the right to claim compensation.
However, airlines will only compensate for flight delays in exceptional circumstances, such as the disruption caused by the volcanic ash cloud in 2010 and 2011.
According to Bot, compensation for flight delays from an EU airport, and for EU-based airlines arriving at an EU airport, should be extended. The only exception would be if airlines could prove that flight delays were as a result of “extraordinary circumstances”.
“We are aware of today’s non-binding opinion by the Advocate General and we await the final ruling,” a BA spokesman said.
Experts argue that if this proposal becomes a reality, airlines will be faced with an annual compensation bill of £1 billion.
Airlines and travel agencies are expected to put up a fight against the new proposals, as they have already attempted to make changes to the current legislation.
A spokesman for the EU’s Court of Justice confirmed that a final decision, by the European Court, will be reached within the next three to six months.
“We will uphold the law and will make sure the operators obey the law as required,” a spokesman from the Civil Aviation Authority added.
(Image: Scott Ableman)