Fabian Demicoli

European union, more rights for air passengers


New measures to strengthen the rights of passengers:
this is the objective of the biggest reform of EU rules in the field of air
transport presented on last 13 March in Brussels. According to the document, subject to the approval to
Member States and the Parliament, the new laws are due to come into force in
early 2015.

In particular, if the flight is more than 12 hours
late or is cancelled, the airline must book passengers on other carriers if
they cannot offer the service with their aircraft within 24 hours. Under the changes, airlines might also have to pay for
a maximum of three nights hotel accommodation. Airlines will be obliged to give passengers
information about why their flight was cancelled within 30 minutes of its
scheduled departure.

"Passenger rights may very well exist on paper but we
all need to make use of these rights when they are most needed, ie, in the
event of a problem, "says the European Commissioner for Transport Siim
Kallas.

He adds: "We are aware that the real priority for
stranded passengers is simply to go home, and that is why we focus on
information management and service and boarding on an alternative flight when
staying on the ground".

Besides, the new rules also clarify what is considered
"exceptional circumstances". Technical problems on board an aircraft
shall not be regarded as exceptional circumstances for example but natural
disasters, strikes or air traffic control are.

There are also news regarding complaints; airlines
will have to respond to passengers within tight deadlines (one week to
acknowledge receipt of the complaint and two months to provide a formal
response).

If there are disputes, passengers can turn to court
bodies responsible for the management of complaints to settle the dispute
(simple and inexpensive).

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