South West Euro-MP Graham Watson has taken up the concerns of passengers caught up in the recent and on-going air disruption at the European level.
He has warned airlines that they must meet their legal obligations regarding refreshments and accommodation for stranded passengers. He has also lodged an urgent Parliamentary Question to the European Commission over reports that some airlines are asking passengers to pay additional costs for alternative travel arrangements.
Under EU law, when a person books a flight, they enter into a contract with the airline to get them from one destination to another. If a flight is cancelled, passengers have two options; they can take a refund and annul the contract, or ask to be scheduled onto another flight or travel by other means.
When passengers choose the latter option, the airline has a duty to provide accommodation, transport to this accommodation, and meals and refreshments where necessary.
Ryanair today backed down from their position of providing assistance only up to the cost of a ticket; which can be as little as €5.
Watson told the Devon Week: “I am pleased that Ryanair have reversed their unacceptable policy and followed the example of other airlines. Whilst airlines do not have to compensate passengers, they do have an important duty of care for them.
“Airlines make substantial profits in the good times and must be prepared- like any other business- to suffer losses in bad times.
“Thousands of individuals have faced a desperate situation over the past few days. EU law says that they should not be left with hotel and restaurant bills for the privilege. We must remain vigilant over the coming weeks that airlines are not ducking their responsibilities.”
Graham says that affected passengers should contact their airline to discuss details of provisions, and address any complaints they may have to the Air Transport Users Council.
The MEP also acted on reports that Tui are asking passengers to pay the difference between their original flight and an alternative route. Watson has today tabled an urgent Parliamentary Question on this issue and said: “It would appear to me that this requirement may not be in line with EU rules. I have asked the European Commission to investigate and will urge them to take action if necessary.
“The EU has given air passengers legal rights. Volcano or no volcano, they must be respected.”