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EU airlines must pay for delays

European Union airlines must pay compensation for delayed flights unless the delay was caused by circumstances be­yond their control, the bloc’s highest court said.

Travellers should be recompensed for delays of more than three hours, the European Union Court of Justice ruled last Tuesday, reaffirming a right established three years ago in a case involving Air France.

The ECJ was ruling in one case involving German carrier Luft­hansa and a second involving British Airways, Easyjet, TUI Travel and the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Under EU rules, passengers on flights operated by EU airlines that start or end in the 27-nation group are entitled to between €250 and €600 for de­lays or cancellations.

“The Court of Justice has confirmed its previous ruling that passengers whose flights have been delayed for a long time may be compensated,” it said.

It did not say what circumstances leading to a delay might be beyond an airline’s control.

The European Consumers’ Or­ga­nisation (BEUC) said the EU’s executive arm should do more to reinforce passenger rights.

“In the long run, the European Commission needs to set this and similar recent judgments in stone in its ongoing review of the regulation,” said BEUC director general Mo­nique Goyens, referring to the 2004 EU rules.

“Keyhole surgery is needed, not dramatic reform. The main challenge is enforcing what al­ready exists. They also need to withstand what is quite robust industry pressure to dilute the law.”

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