The founder and executive chairman of Jet2.com has severe doubts concerning the laws that address flight delay compensation, according to a recent report. Philp Meeson is now calling for a reform in the compensation laws for flight delays and cancellations.
According to him, the regulation designed by the European Commission has done very little to address the problem of delays and cancellation. Instead, he argued, the regulation has only gone on to facilitate the establishment of firms that provide compensation-related services. He called it a “cottage industry for chasing compensation”.
Meeson wants to revert to a simple and effective system that runs on common sense. He also added that if ADR or Alternative Dispute Resolution services were to be used, they’d have to be consistent, have influence flight to flight and be subject to appeal when dubious decisions are made.
New regime questioned
Jet2 is UK’s third-largest airline, and it recently acquired its 100th aircraft. The airline is poised to expand its capacity in 2019 to about 7 million passengers. Meeson, who heads the company, criticised the new regime that has been put in place by Brussels.
He questioned the fairness of one passenger being compensated for the delay, while the other is denied. According to Meeson, decisions need to be made on a flight by flight basis, rather than on a passenger by passenger basis.
He also questioned the fairness of charging carriers 4 to 5 times the airline ticket as compensation. Currently, the compensation fee is set at a minimum of €250 per passenger for a 3-hour delay on a short-haul flight. The value goes up following the number of delay hours.
For delays on long-haul flights, the fee is set at €400 for the same 3-hour delay.
Now, Meeson claims that these figures were originally applicable to cancellations only. However, they have inadvertently been used for delays too. He added that the figures were too high for budget operators like Jet2, which typically charges £80 for a normal flight.
In other words, if a flight is delayed, the carrier can end up paying large sums of money – far more than what they earn.
The complicated “Extraordinary Circumstances” clause
Meeson also called the law’s complex, specifically pointing to the “extraordinary circumstances” clause. According to the Jet2 boss, the clause, which states that compensation isn’t due under extraordinary circumstances, especially when reasonable measures have been taken, can be interpreted in many ways.
He added that the vagueness of the clause has only allowed lawyers to make money. Meeson pointed out that there was a problem in the way such disputes were handled and that it was a technical aspect of the law that needed to be applied consistently.
In the past, the CAA or Civil Aviation Authority would make use of an in-house unit to pass a judgement, which was quite useful. However, the CAA now forces airlines to make use of ADR schemes, where two 3rd party providers preside over such matters – the Aviation ADR and the CEDR.
The issue is that both entities struggle with the complexity of these claims. They end up making use of adjudicators without legal qualifications to assess the technical problem.
Meeson wants to root out the imbalance in fairness. Unlike customers, airlines don’t have the option of choosing whom to go to sort out their legal troubles. He feels that both, airlines and customers need to be treated with equal fairness.