Labour MEPs: EU must ensure national governments enforce air passenger rights

Labour MEPs have urged the European Commission to exert the strongest possible pressure on national governments to ensure air passenger rights are fully enforced following the Ryanair flight cancellation crisis, which has affected 700,000 journeys.

MEPs will grill the Commission today on the thousands of cancelled flights and the enforcement of EU regulations on air passenger rights. Under European Law, passengers whose flights are cancelled are entitled to reimbursement, re-routing or return – yet Ryanair initially failed to inform customers of their rights, only belatedly doing so following the threat of legal action from the Civil Aviation Authority.

The CAA demanded Ryanair clarify its rebooking policy, commits to assist passengers who chose an unsuitable option because they were not in possession of the full facts, and refunds any out-of-pocket expenses of people affected by the cancellations

Lucy Anderson MEP, Labour’s European Parliament spokesperson on transport and tourism, and Socialists and Democrats Group spokesperson on air passenger rights, said:

“Once again we see an airline treating its customers with contempt. Not content merely with cancelling scores of flights and ruining thousands of people’s holidays, they compounded their ineptitude by misleading passengers about the compensation they are due.

“This kind of sharp business practice is all too common, with airlines believing they can exploit the differing enforcement regimes across the EU to shirk their responsibilities. I welcome the news that the CAA is pushing Ryanair to act, but this whole situation simply highlights the need for member states to work together on this issue.

“Passengers don’t care about national jurisdiction when it comes to their holiday, they want to know that wherever they fly in Europe they can trust their airline to get them where they’re going or compensate them when things go wrong. We must have consistent rule enforcement right across our continent.

“Businesses need to start looking for solutions not loopholes, and national governments, including the UK, need to work together to create a situation that works for passengers. Most importantly, the Commission needs to listen to passengers and the parliament, and focus its attention on sorting out this mess.”

The Ryanair fiasco has been followed closely by yet another appalling situation for passengers and airline staff after Monarch airlines went into administration.

Lucy Anderson MEP added:

“Total mismanagement of the Brexit process by the UK government has contributed to the collapse of Monarch. In view of the mounting uncertainties surrounding the future of aviation between the UK and the rest of the EU, there is now an increasingly poor climate for airline stability and investment.”