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 EP gives the green light to air passenger rights’ protection

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PostSubject: EP gives the green light to air passenger rights’ protection   Thu Apr 19, 2012 7:03 pm

EP gives the green light to air passenger rights’ protection

Recently the MEPs passed a resolution addressed to the European Commission demanding more rights to air passengers and clearer regulations for their enforcement and protection in the territory of the European Union. The main points in the resolution have been proposed by Bulgarian MEP Dr Antonia Parvanova (ALDE), member of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee.

The demand is aimed to make sure that the future Directive on Air Passenger Rights in EU would provide better protection and would allow them to withhold their rights, Ms Parvanova said in an interview for Radio Bulgaria.
According to the document, airlines should deliver to blocked passengers clear information and timely assistance through adequate feedback, including phone calls. In case airlines go bust or stop flying following loss of license, passengers should be transported free of charge. Besides, the EC should work out a single uniform complaint form, and align rules concerning hand luggage and online bookings. The MEPs have also insisted on safe child chairs present on all planes, as well as discounts for children aged below 24 months.

This is one in a series of documents of the European Parliament demanding more rights to air passengers in EU, Dr Antonia Parvanova recalled. Her report on the functioning and enforcement of air passenger rights in Europe was passed unanimously and the European Parliament resolution from 29 March is more or less based on it.
“The EC has held a one-year survey about the rights of passengers using air transport. Its results were made public in December 2011”, the Bulgarian MEP goes back in time. “This was part of the consultations undertaken by the European Parliament with member states, so as to find out cases of inequality, imperfect laws and flaws in the implementation of current regulations. In connection with the intention of the EC to draft a new Directive, the EP initiated a report about its own vision prepared by two committees: on Transport and on Internal Market and Consumer Protection.”
What are the main demands regarding the Air Passenger Rights Directive?
“They have to do with the delivery of full information to passengers about the conditions of the flight, i.e. the cost of the ticket, luggage requirements, the indivisibility of the trip for the passenger and the luggage, various charges and fees as well as compensations. Further, passengers should be informed of the sanctions of airlines and of ways of controlling them by the respective national agencies. There are other details that should be elaborated: compensations in case of bankruptcy or force majeure;
size of compensations and how responsibility is shared by the airline, the travel agent and the land operator;
protection of the rights of air passengers when they shop in the territory of airports, as well as the types of luggage that can be loaded on planes. This is a range of problems that have been submitted to us by airlines, travel agents and passenger associations. The European Parliament has summed them up and has forwarded them to the European Commission as a demand that the Commission should incorporate in a future European directive. We hope that by end-2012 the EC will be able to go though this matter and submit to the EP a piece of legislation for discussion.”
Are Bulgarian air passengers aware of their rights and what are their most common complaints?
“Most Bulgarian consumers are passive where their consumer rights are concerned. Well, as to air passengers, there are a few problems and not only for the Bulgarian ones. The system is flawed and getting comprehensible information is not at all easy. There is more trouble in cases of faraway destinations, multi-transit flights etc. The trouble with getting things understood properly has to do with the terms of the trip and with ticket rates. Looking at signals we have had from Bulgarian nationals, it seems that most of their problems derive from the integrity of luggage and with the lack of clarity who is responsible for this – the airline or the land operator. Besides they are all at sea whom to address with their complaints. Things get a lot worse during combined trips with a few stopovers, as it is sometimes difficult to establish where the integrity of the passenger’s luggage was broken. There are also problems with damaged aids of persons with disabilities. The usual practice of airlines is to pay compensations worth up to EUR 200, just like with common luggage. These aids and devices however tend to be very expensive. Therefore in the EP proposal I pay special attention to the need to devote a separate chapter in the directive to persons with disabilities and handicaps, as they need special care at airports. This chapter should provide not only for persons with disabilities but also for elderly people, pregnant women and children who are not accompanied during trips. To recap, as far as Bulgarians are concerned, there is no great difference from the rest of the EU. Across the bloc, air passengers want to submit certain complaints but they often fail to address them to the right body that has the competence to resolve their problem”, Bulgarian MEP Dr Antonia Parvanova (ALDE), member of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee in the European Parliament, concludes.

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EP gives the green light to air passenger rights’ protection

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