Official data from regulatory agencies showed complaints against airlines in a number of countries, including Germany and Canada, reached or neared record levels in the past year as COVID-19 restrictions were lifted and travel resumed.
According to Reuters, this growing number of disputes between passengers and airlines worldwide has many regulators considering new legislation and calling for stricter enforcement of existing consumer protection rules.
However, the tightening of rules on the payment of benefits could increase the pressure on air ticket prices from energy, labor and other rising costs. Lufthansa’s payouts alone increased to 331 million euros in 2022 from 25 million euros in 2021, the German airline group told the news agency.
Canada is reviewing legislation while the US government is writing new rules and the European Union is pushing for stricter enforcement of its existing regime. Pressure to act is mounting as summer travel is expected to set new records in some regions this year.
From Atlanta to Delhi – the world’s 10 busiest airports for 2022 The US is present with a total of five representatives, China for the first time in many years has none
In response, airlines fear that a “mixture of conflicting rules” will become a serious obstacle for them and want those responsible for services beyond their control to also bear the cost of benefits. The world airline organization IATA has even called on governments to help avoid fragmented regulations and improve services,
Airlines for Europe (A4E) says compensation is becoming increasingly burdensome for the industry and existing rules leave too much room for interpretation. The group of European airlines called for a reform of the legislation, the news agency also recalls and quotes the analyst James Halstead, according to whom:
“While higher fares have helped carriers offset various rising costs, it is in the airlines’ best interest to keep passengers happy, even if there is some disruption to service.”
Lufthansa emphasizes that it has no accumulated complaints from customers and that refunds are usually paid within the statutory seven-day period, which is mandatory for airlines operating in Europe.
Strikes at British airports could last monthsThe border guards union is raising money in a special strike fund, a sign that it is preparing for prolonged protests
British Airways are also adamant that they work extremely hard to resolve claims in a timely manner. British law determines when compensation is due depending on whether the delay is the airline’s fault.
Record number of complaints
Complaints from passengers clog the courts and regulatory agencies in Germany, Great Britain, Canada and the United States, it is clear from the material of Reuters, which also gives specific examples.
In Germany, the Federal Justice Ministry’s arbitration board, which mediates between consumers and airlines, said it was handling 46 percent more complaints than in 2019, the year before the pandemic. German courts, in turn, reported an increase of around 40% to more than 70,000 cases involving passenger complaints last year.
In Britain, district court judgments against airlines totaled more than 4.5 million pounds ($5.68 million), according to consumer watchdog Which?, which cited the official register of judgments in March.
A collapse of Lufthansa’s IT systems left thousands of passengers stranded at airports According to the airline, it was due to underground engineering works at the railway station in Frankfurt
In the US, the Department of Transportation notes that in 2022, passenger complaints from airlines increased by 55%. That’s why federal lawmakers are preparing rules to be proposed by the end of the year that would require airlines to compensate passengers for long delays or canceled flights under their control.
In Canada, the situation is similar. The Canadian Transportation Agency, a quasi-judicial body responsible for enforcing existing travel reimbursement requirements, also reported a record 47,000 complaints. That figure is so high that the country wants to impose a fee on airlines if they transfer pending complaints to the agency.
In Europe, the popularity of intermediaries such as AirHelp, which help consumers obtain refunds or compensation, is growing at an enviable pace. The company said active claims were about three times higher in 2022 than in 2019, and that number could rise with expected strikes this summer.
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