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Published on Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Airlines accused of flouting 'flimsy' UK compensation laws

Airlines are being accused of wriggling out of paying millions of pounds in compensation to passengers because of 'flimsy and inconsistent' laws in the UK.

Compensation claims company EUclaim says UK courts interpret regulations to mean strike action by trade unions is classed as an 'extraordinary circumstance' and is out of an airline's control.

But in other countries, such as Holland, passengers are allowed to claim against the airlines in cases when a flight has been delayed by three hours or more, even when it's due to airline strike action.

EUclaim is calling for a redefinition of the term 'extraordinary' in relation to airline strikes.

"Just looking at the way travellers are able to claim compensation in the UK baffles me," said Adeline Noorderhaven, UK manager for EUclaim.

"Conceivably, you could have someone who is unable to travel from Brighton to Gatwick by train because of an RMT strike, but under the delay repay scheme operated by the rail network, that person can claim compensation for not being able to complete their journey. When that person does eventually arrive at Gatwick to catch their British Airways flight and find it is cancelled because of strike action by the crew, they are told they won't be entitled to compensation... how does that make sense?"

BA passengers suffered days of delays and cancellations earlier this year due to industrial action by cabin crew.

But under UK law the disruption would be classed as extraordinary, and out of the airline's control.

"We believe that a staff strike from the airline is absolutely the fault of an airline, and many are using it as an excuse to avoid coughing up. It is the airline's responsibility to keep its staff happy and to avoid a situation where a strike is deemed necessary," said Noorderhaven.

"Whilst freak weather conditions are accepted as being outside of the control of airline bosses, there are many situations classified as 'extraordinary' such as strike action that is actually the result of airline inefficiency and mismanagement.

"The reality is airline bosses have the power to end strike action, however you cut-it, it is within their control. It's the view of other European states, but not the UK. The law is flimsy and inconsistent."

According to the claims company, in the first three months of this year only 42% of easyJet's delayed and cancelled flights were claimable, while the figure was 41% for Ryanair and 38% for BA.

A spokesman for Ryanair said: "We don't comment on manifestly false statistics (their 41% figure is invented) of a 'claim chaser' like EU Claim, who have absolutely no idea of the numbers of EU261 settlements made or rejected by Ryanair.

"This is because Ryanair refuses to deal with claims chasers like EU Claim who overcharge their customers up to 40% of their EU261 compensation for providing no useful service whatsoever.

"This 59% claim clearly contradicts the claim they make on their website of 'a success rate of 97% on all cases'. This just proves that no claim made by these claims chasers are accurate."

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