UK’s CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) has rounded up 5 non-European airline operators, namely, Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Turkish Airlines, American Airlines, and Etihad, as part of an enforcement action. The 5 operators have come under the radar for refusing to pay flight delay compensations to their passengers.
According to the CAA, the airline operators stance is that they do not pay compensation if the passengers are delayed during the initial leg of the journey, leading them to miss a connecting flight and reaching the final destination over 3 hours late. However, the CAA told the airline operators that they are required to offer compensation under European aviation law even when the situation involves a connecting flight.
The law makes it clear that passengers are entitled to compensation in cash up to €600 if the flight delay crosses the 4-hour mark for distances above 3500 kilometers. This covers all flights leaving from an EU-based airport, irrespective of the operator’s original nationality. Even connected flights are covered under this law.
The exemption to this rule is when a delay is caused as a result of extraordinary circumstances.
Richard Moriarty, Director of Consumers and Markets, CAA, stated that the refusal from the operators to pay compensation was disappointing. He added that such delays were extremely frustrating for flyers, especially when they were made to miss connecting flights.
Moriarty made it clear that these laws existed to ensure that passengers are taken good care of when such disruptions occurred and that they are compensated as required.
The airline operators were also condemned by an industry watchdog.
Alex Neil, Managing Director for ‘Which?’, stated that it was appalling to find that certain operators thought of themselves as being above the law. He added that the compensation claims process must be made simpler and that the government must bring in legislation that would help with this.
Neil also requested the government to take measures that would prevent the rights of British passengers from being revoked once the UK exits the EU.
Apart from denying compensation, the CAA has stated that Singapore Airlines has placed the current claims on hold.
However, Moriarty made it clear that the CAA would not think twice about taking stern action against violating operators, especially when there is enough evidence to prove that they are in the wrong. He made it clear that the operators would be forced to update their policies and provide assistance to customers.
Turkish Airlines is believed to have directed their customers to an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service. Now, the CAA is requesting the remaining 4 operators to follow the same.
Etihad states that it has been in talks with the CAA, but criticised the organisation’s approach of shaming the operators. The airline’s spokesperson called CAA’s handling of the situation as unacceptable and unprofessional.
The Middle-Eastern operator insists that they have not broken the law, however, promises to abide by the Court of Appeal’s ruling.
American Airlines responded by saying that it disagrees with the CAA’s interpretation of the law and that it will seek further discussion.