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Airlines urged to reassess rejected compensation claims after rulings are clarified

New clearer guidelines have been issued by the European Commission to end confusion about when air passengers are entitled to compensation for cancellations and long delays, and when they are deemed outside of an airline's control. Until now, the EC has only provided a broad outline about which circumstances fall within each category.

The CAA said following the publication of the list, it will be asking airlines to reconsider claims they have previously rejected.

It says in assessing cases to date, the CAA has agreed with airlines' judgements on whether the cancellation or delay's cause was an extraordinary circumstance in around 50% of cases.

The CAA said the list should speed things up for passengers and allow the CAA to focus resources on other support for consumers.

"The CAA is also considering other measures to reduce the amount of time passengers are left waiting for a decision on their claims and improve airline compliance with the regulations, including ensuring airlines correctly assess more new cases without them needing to be referred to the CAA," said a spokesman.

The new list confirms that passengers are able to claim compensation for delays and cancellations due to technical issues which arise as a result of the airline's failure to maintain the aircraft.

This means that British Airways would be liable to compensate passengers who were delayed as a result of an emergency landing at London Heathrow in May, should the Air Accident Investigation Branch conclude that maintenance issues were to blame.

A preliminary report by the AAIB said the fan cowl doors on both engines had been left unlatched during maintenance checks, but it has not yet issued a final report.

The new EC list also confirms that passengers can claim when small delays mean air crew have to stop work because they have already worked too many hours, which then leads to longer delays or cancellations. But this is only when this occurs as a result of poor operational planning and inadequate flight and turnaround times being allocated for the aircraft.

A spokesman for the CAA said it had urged the EC to come up with a clearer list following a European Court of Justice ruling in October 2012 that passengers who experience delays of over three hours on arrival should be due compensation as well as those who experience cancellations.

Since the ruling, the CAA has seen significant increases in the numbers of passengers seeking help when airlines reject their claims, which has led to delays in responding to consumers.

CAA group director of regulatory policy Iain Osborne said passengers who experience cancellations and delays can find it confusing to work out if they are owed compensation.

"The EC guidelines should help to inform passengers more about their rights," he said.

"We also hope they will assist airlines to assess passenger claims correctly when they are received, reducing the time it takes for passengers to get their money, and the time spent by the CAA checking airlines' assessments."

The CAA is putting the list on its website to help passengers decide if they are entitled to make a claim.

 24/07/2013 Travelmole News

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