News Airlines ‘must pay’ for cancellations

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Airlines ‘must pay’ for cancellations

Passenger power has been given a boost by indications that the European air travel industry is to come in for a major shake-up.

Passenger power has been given a boost by indications that the European air travel industry is to come in for a major shake-up, bringing airlines to task over compensation for flight cancellation.

In an interview with The Times, EU transport commissioner Jacques Barrot announced his intentions to iron out a loophole in European law that allows airlines to refuse reimbursement of passengers after major delays and flight cancellations.

Regulations currently exempt airlines from compensating passengers if ‘unforeseen circumstances’ such as weather conditions, fires or air traffic control strikes are the cause of disruption to schedules, but carriers were said to be avoiding compensation through a host of other explanations.

Mr Barrot told The Times: "We have clarified the circumstances in which airlines are liable and member states will have to examine complaints very thoroughly. If it turns out that passengers are not having complaints properly investigated, I will bring infringement proceedings in the European Court of Justice against the offending member states."

British air travel watchdog, the Air Transport Users Council, has backed the appeal, criticising the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) of refusing to rule against airlines in any circumstance.

The CAA has however hit back this week, claiming to put passengers "at the heart" of its concerns by targeting BAA’s monopoly of London airports and calling for reform of mechanisms for setting price controls at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted.

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