Airlines face court threat over customer services

 
Three airlines are facing legal action over complaints about how they handle passengers hit by flight disruptions.

The Civil Aviation Authority said Ireland’s Aer Lingus, Britain’s Jet2 and Hungary’s Wizz Air have failed to change their consumer policies in line with its requests.

Andrew Haines, chief executive of the CAA, said passengers have “every right to be disappointed” by the trio.

The move follows a six-month review of passenger disruption policies.

It examined how airlines handle compensation for flight delays and offer information to passengers about their customer rights.

The CAA said it has launched enforcement action against the three airlines and will seek a court order unless they comply.

The allegations against the airlines are:

Aer Lingus and Jet2 have failed to give satisfactory evidence that they proactively provide passengers with information about their rights in line with the requirements set out in European regulation.
Jet2 and Wizz Air have failed to satisfy the regulator that they are consistently paying compensation for disruption caused by technical faults, despite a Court of Appeal ruling clarifying that airlines must do so.
Jet2 and Wizz Air are imposing two-year time limits for passengers to take compensation claims to the court, despite a Court of Appeal ruling that passengers should have up to six years to take a claim to court.
Mr Haines said: “Airlines are well aware of the support they must provide when there is disruption and passengers have every right to be disappointed that a small number of airlines are not complying with the Court of Appeal rulings and continue to let people down in this way.

“Since the law was clarified last year, we have been active to ensure airlines are applying consumer law appropriately and I warmly welcome the response of those airlines that have changed their policies as a result of this work.”

A Jet2 spokeswoman told the BBC that the CAA’s announcement was “materially inaccurate” regarding the airline’s duties to compensate passengers for disruption.
The CAA has been reviewing how airlines compensate disrupted passengers
She said Jet2 was paying compensation for disruption in line with previous court rulings and that airlines “are entitled” to limit to two years the period in which claims are made.

She added: “No enforcement action has been taken. Given the misapprehensions of the CAA, Jet2.com expects that following the mandatory consultation process the CAA will not wish to take the matter any further.”

Aer Lingus spokesman Declan Kearney said the Irish airline was engaging with the CAA to address its concerns.

He added: “Aer Lingus’ procedures, relating to the provision of information to customers affected by operational disruption, are fully compliant with all the relevant regulations. We have provided a number of documents to the CAA in recent months to substantiate this point and we continue to engage with the CAA to address their concerns.”

Wizz Air spokesman Daniel de Carvalho said it is currently reassessing compensation cases.

He told the BBC: “The UK CAA is well aware that Wizz Air is re-assessing these cases and has confirmed to the UK CAA itself, some time ago, that it will apply the UK CAA’s own list of extraordinary circumstances in the relevant cases.”

He said that limiting the time within which claims can be raised to two years has been “upheld by the English courts”.

Sourced from BBC News

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Court rules airlines cannot delay compensation payments

Court rules airlines cannot delay compensation paymentsImage via Shutterstock

Five airlines have been told they cannot postpone giving compensation payments to passengers whose flights have been delayed by technical problems.

Jet2, Thomas Cook, Ryanair, Flybe, and Wizz Air had wanted Liverpool County Court to stay, or delay, one woman’s claim over a delayed Jet2 flight, while a Dutch case on the same issue was heard in the European Court of Justice.

But the judge rejected this saying: “a line should now been drawn. Justice delayed is justice denied.’

Lawyers for passenger Kim Allen from Lancashire claimed the ruling could benefit tens of thousands of consumers with delay compensation claims.

Allen is claiming €400 in compensation after a delay flying from Manchester to Malaga in March 2012.

Her Jet2 flight was delayed by almost seven hours due to a technical problem, a flap slat fault, which occurred just prior to take off.

Allen’s case was originally stayed pending last year’s Huzar v Jet2 case in which Court of Appeal judges ruled that technical problems are not an extraordinary circumstance under EU Regulation 261/2004.

The stay on her case was initially lifted after Huzar’s victory but Jet2 soon made an application to stay Allen’s claim yet again.

The airline wanted to put the case on hold pending the outcome of the Dutch case, which has been referred to the European Court of Justice.

The van der Lans case will mainly look at whether a technical problem that arises spontaneously – as opposed to one which is detected during routine maintenance – is an extraordinary circumstance under EU Regulation 261/2004.

Extraordinary circumstances are the airline’s only defence to paying out flight delay compensation.

Kevin Clarke, flight delay lawyer at Bott & Co Solicitors who represented Allen, said:

“We’re delighted that once again the court has rebuffed the airline’s attempts to continue delaying legitimate passenger claims.

“Bott & Co alone have over 8,000 clients with claims against the five airlines who had requested stays similar to that in Ms Allen’s case.

“We’ve seen continual legal challenges to the finer details of flight delay regulation by the airlines since it was first introduced and it’s pleasing the court is now taking a firm line against them.

“We would hope that the airlines will now finally face up to their obligations to passengers and to settle the hundreds of thousands of legitimate claims outstanding.

“Sadly the history of their conduct over the last decade would tell us to expect yet another legal challenge.”

A spokesman for Jet2 said: “As Jet2.com has only just received the judgment the company is currently considering its position.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Ryanair calls on high fare airlines to drop fuel surcharges

getAsset.aspxBy Phil Davies,

Airlines such as British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have been urged by Ryanair to drop fuel surcharges and pass on savings from falling oil prices to customers.

The low-cost carrier is urging UK consumers not to pay unnecessary charges by avoiding high fare airlines.

Ryanair is also calling on all airlines operating in the UK, including Flybe, Jet 2, Monarch, Thomson and Thomas Cook, to confirm they do not impose fuel surcharges on customers.

Chief marketing officer, Kenny Jacobs, said: “It’s grossly unfair on consumers that high fare airlines such as BA and Virgin continue to charge fuel surcharges, squeezing customers for every last drop.

“As oil prices continually fall, these savings should be passed on to customers.

“Our advice is simple – don’t let these high fare airlines hold you over a barrel.”

He added: “Ryanair guarantees no fuel surcharges ever and we’ll continue to lower air fares for UK customers, as millions more Britons choose to fly Ryanair.

“We call on all airlines operating in the UK to confirm to that they don’t impose fuel surcharges on their customers.”

Sourced by Travel Weekly


Jet2holidays growth powers profit rise at parent Dart

By Phil Davies

Growth at Jet2holidays helped boost half-year profits at parent company Dart Group by 37% to more than £78 million.

The company cautioned that winter losses are expected to increase materially as its leisure travel operations become increasingly seasonal due to ongoing growth.

Package holidays achieved 110% growth in revenues to £380.1 million in the six months to September 30 with carryings up by 103% to 634,866.

Budget carrier Jet2.com saw revenue growth of 19% to £463.2 million, reflecting a 13% increase in passengers carried and increases in ticket yields and non-ticket retail revenues.

The airline operated 53 aircraft this summer from its eight northern bases – Belfast, Blackpool, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds Bradford, Manchester and Newcastle airports.

Jet2.com has increased its scheduled capacity this winter by 23%, while reducing charter activity in the process, with growth provided by additional scheduled flights to Mediterranean and Canary island destinations.

Capacity for summer 2014 is to grow by a further 14% following a 12% rise this year with additional services supporting the growth of both Jet2.com and Jet2holidays.

In total 26 new services are planned, including the new destinations of Fuerteventura, Verona and Vienna.

Group chairman Philip Meeson said: “Our customers continue to demand great value but are not willing to reduce quality.

“Therefore, our holidays are ideally suited to the current difficult economic environment as we offer packages encompassing flights, transfers and accommodation ranging from budget self-catering, to five star luxury hotels, with all inclusive and three and four star packages being particularly popular.

“Our leisure travel operations continue to concentrate on the Mediterranean, the Canary Islands and European leisure cities, which means that the business is becoming increasingly seasonal as it continues to grow and, as a result, increased losses are to be expected in the second half of the year.

He added: “With the important winter booking period still to come, the board remains cautiously optimistic in relation to profit growth for the financial year ending 31, March 2014.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Jet2.com ditches premium phone rate

Jet2.com ditches premium phone rateBy Phil Davies
Jet2.com has been identified by consumer watchdog Which? as the worst offender for charging high rate telephone numbers for customer services or complaints.The carrier charges 60p per minute on an 09 premium rate number for its general enquiries helpline, according to Which?.

Jet2.com last night announced it would start charging general enquiries at national rates, the Daily Telegraph reported.

The airline said it had decided to drop its premium rate call line as part of a “wider review” now that its call centres are moving from South Africa to Leeds.

A spokeswoman insisted the timing had nothing to do with the Which? probe.

Airlines including Ryanair, Monarch Airlines, Flybe, KLM, Aer Lingus and Lufthansa also use 0871 numbers for reservations, complaints or other customer enquiries.

Fifteen of the biggest train operators use 0844 or 0845 numbers for their customer helplines.

Following an investigation of 76 firms, Which? renewed a call for travel companies to be subject to the EU Consumer Rights Directive. This states that customer helplines must be charged at no more than the basic rate.

The government is currently consulting on whether to include travel, timeshare and package travel in the ban.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: “Going on holiday is meant to be a pleasure but there is nothing fun about being whacked with a costly call.

“It’s a disgrace that people face bumper bills just to ask a question or make a complaint about their travel booking.

“The government should close the loophole that allows travel companies to use costly phone numbers without delay.”

Other findings from the travel investigation include:

  • 24 of 38 airlines give high rate numbers for customers to call for customer service or to complain
  • 11 ferry companies give 0871, 0872, 0845 or 0843 numbers for customers to call for customer service
  • Typically the 0871 in the travel sector cost at least 10p per minute to call from a landline, but could be substantially more from a mobile phone. 0844 and 0871 numbers are not included as standard in inclusive call packages from landlines or mobiles.
  • Coach firms National Express and Eurolines use 0871 numbers for both customer service or complaints. Green Line also uses an 0844 number for both, while Megabus has an 0871 number for customer service.
  • Sourced from Travel Weekly

Jet2 moves call centre from South Africa to Leeds

FAST-GROWING airline Jet2.com is bringing its call centre operations in South Africa to Leeds and is investing £9m in a new training academy for pilots and crew.

Philip Meeson, Jet2.com’s founder and chairman, told a business audience in Leeds today that in total the company has created more than 500 new jobs in Yorkshire this year. These two latest developments will generate more than 80 jobs locally, he said.

Jet2.com’s call centre in South Africa will move into the firm’s new 71,000 sq ft headquarters at The Mint in Leeds later this month. The firm’s call centre at Leeds Bradford Airport will relocate to The Mint too.

The new purpose built Jet2.com Training Academy will be based on the Euroway Industrial Estate, in Bradford.

It will house three flight simulators plus a cabin crew trainer unit to provide a training experience for both new recruits and existing pilots and crew across the company’s eight UK bases. Building will commence over the next couple of months with the aim to have the academy ready for spring 2014.

Mr Meeson said: “The heart of our business very much remains in Yorkshire so it’s fantastic to be able to announce further expansion in the region, providing even more jobs for this talented local workforce.

“Centralising our call centres in the city and developing our own purpose built training academy for our pilots and cabin crew is an investment in the future of our business, as we continue to grow.

“This year is set to be another successful year for us. Across our eight UK bases we are expecting to fly 5.5 million passengers to and from 61 destinations.

“These further developments clearly demonstrate our commitment to giving people the best possible service and great value flights and holidays to the Mediterranean, Canaries and top European cities.”

Mr Meeson made the announcements at the Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce annual lunch. The event at The Queens Hotel in Leeds attracted more than 300 attendees.

Sourced by Yorkshire Post


Jet2.com expands long-haul offering to US

Jet2.com aircraft

By Patrick Whyte

Jet2.com is set to expand its longhaul offering by launching flights to two new North American destinations.

The no-frills airline has operated a number of seasonal flights to New York over the Christmas period and is now expanding to cover Toronto and Boston.

Select flights will be available to all three destinations from Leeds Bradford, Glasgow and Newcastle in spring 2014.

At the moment these only cover specific dates but TTG understands that there are plans to add more.

Return flights are available from £499pp including taxes. The airline’s sister company, tour operator Jet2holidays, is also offering a selection of city breaks.

Steve Heapy, chief executive of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays said: “We are thrilled to be the very first holiday company to give people direct access to these exciting transatlantic destinations from Leeds, Glasgow and Newcastle

Sourced from TTG Digital