by MONITOR
EUROSCEPTICS may yet be persuaded to change their minds if the European Union comes up with more legislation like that on compensation for delayed or cancelled holiday flights passed this week by the European Parliament. Currently, limited compensation applies only to passengers who are “bumped off” a flight because the airline has over–booked; furthermore, passengers on holiday charter flights are excluded from any compensation. Under the new regulations, which should come into effect in about two years, all passengers affected by a cancelled flight will be in the same category as those denied a seat because of overbooking, with compensation of £173 and £415 for short and long–hal flights respectively. Delays will not attract compensation but instead full reimbursement of the cost of the fare for more than two hours will be paid. Airlines will also be legally liable to provide refreshments and hotels for stranded passengers. Predictably, both full–fare and budget airlines are complaining about these changes which the European Parliament approved despite their intensive lobbying against them. The budget operators, in particular, are saying that they will have to raise their prices to cover the cost of potential compensation payments but the likelihood is that the spirit of competition will ensure that any increases are small. Meanwhile all passengers will get a fair deal for the first time. Next for the European Parliament's agenda: a measure for a single, unified air traffic control system for the European skies so that aircraft do not have to go through six or seven controls on a two hour flight and services cannot be disrupted by industrial action in single country.