Brussels, 13 March 2013
Vice-President Siim Kallas press statement on passenger rights revision
Good morning everyone.
I hate being stranded at the airport. And I am sure most, if not all of you, hate it too.
It's bad enough if you are travelling on business. But if it’s the holiday time and you've got a young family with you, it quickly turns into a nightmare.
That's why it's so important that passenger rights don't just exist on paper. We all need to be able to rely on them when it matters, at the airport, when things go wrong.
The main objective of this Regulation is to get you home, or to where you want to go, as soon as possible.
The package of measures we are announcing today draws on 8 years of experience with air passenger rights:
So what does it all mean in practice?
First of all, if you are delayed you will have a right to information about what is going on after half an hour.
Secondly, everyone has the right to care - something to eat and drink - after two hours instead of four. If you are actually stuck on the plane (a tarmac delay), these rights to care still apply. And they have to take you back to the terminal after 5 hours.
We are strengthening the right to re-routing. If your carrier is not able to re-route you themselves within 12 hours, they must find another airline or put you on the train. And by the way, if you have not used the first half of a return ticket, our proposals give you a new right to use the return leg without penalty.
All this eases some of the pain, but we know that the real priority for stranded passengers is just to get home.
If the airline is going to find you another plane, we need to give them the time do that. Otherwise you run the risk that the airline will cancel the flight altogether and you won't be going anywhere until tomorrow at the earliest. For that reason, we are giving them more time - for example on flights within the EU, moving from 5 hours instead of 3 - to sort the problem out.
Remember, compensation is always only a second best option for passengers – the best option is to get you to your desired destination as soon as possible.
If you are outside the EU these rules only apply if you are on a European carrier. So my message is "Fly European". Our aviation industry has a high and deserved reputation for its quality standards. Other airlines follow our lead. We want to preserve that quality while at the same time ensuring that passengers really can get the fair treatment they deserve when things go wrong.
In my mandate, we have seen the full application of new rights for passengers traveling by rail, sea and road. Europe is now the first and only region of the world where passengers enjoy comprehensive rights across all types of travel. This revision for air passengers completes the circle.
Thank you. Now I am very happy to take any questions you might have.