THREE major airlines are facing legal action over alleged breaches of consumer law in their handling of passengers hit by flight disruptions.
Aer Lingus, Jet2 and Wizz Air have not made changes to their policies requested by regulators despite extensive discussions, it is claimed.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) announced yesterday that it has launched enforcement action against the carriers and will seek a court order unless they comply.
It comes after the CAA carried out a six-month review of airline policies in to supporting passengers during disruption, including approaches to paying flight delay compensation and providing information to fliers about their rights.
The allegations against the three airlines are that:
• Jet2 and Wizz Air have failed to satisfy the regulator that they are consistently paying compensation for disruption caused by technical faults, despite a Court of Appeal ruling clarifying that airlines must do so.
• Jet2 and Wizz Air are imposing two-year time limits for passengers to take compensation claims to court, despite a Court of Appeal ruling that passengers should have up to six years to take a claim to court.
• Jet2 and Aer Lingus have failed to give satisfactory evidence that they proactively provide passengers with information about their rights during disruption in line with the requirements set out in European regulation.
CAA chief executive Andrew Haines said: “Airlines are well aware of the support they must provide when there is disruption and passengers have every right to be disappointed that a small number of airlines are not complying with the Court of Appeal rulings and continue to let people down in this way.
“Since the law was clarified last year, we have been active to ensure airlines are applying consumer law appropriately and I warmly welcome the response of those airlines that have changed their policies as a result of this work.
“Our job is not done until all airlines can demonstrate they are providing care, assistance and compensation as required by law.
“While we have no power to secure redress for individual consumers, we are determined to stand up for passengers and are taking this action to safeguard their rights.”
A spokeswoman for Jet2 said the claims were “materially inaccurate”.
She said: “Jet2.com is paying compensation for disruption caused by technical faults in line with the landmark Huzar ruling and have already confirmed this to the CAA. The compensation is up to €400 euros (£289) per person even though our average fare is £80.
“Airlines are entitled to limit to two years the period in which claims can be made by contractual limitations and these have been upheld by the court on a number of occasions. Jet2.com strictly abides by court decisions and is acting in accordance with the law, not contrary to it.”
A spokesman for Aer Lingus said: “Aer Lingus’ procedures, relating to the provision of information to customers affected by operational disruption, are fully compliant with all the relevant regulations.
“We have provided a number of documents to the CAA in recent months to substantiate this point and we continue to engage with the CAA to address their concerns.”
A Wizz Air’s spokesman said: “Wizz Air confirms that, following established practice under English law and English court procedures, an application for stay had been made regarding a case in the English courts while the European Court of Justice is considering a relevant case relating to the extent of airlines’ liability to pay compensation claims in certain cases involving technical faults and defects.”