Data from flight compensation company EUclaim has revealed that Brexit could cost British travellers up to £300 million a year in compensation relating to flight delays and cancellations.
EC Regulation 261/2004 – the rule that currently allows all European travellers to claim compensation against airlines in the event of cancellations, rerouting, delays and denied boarding – will cease to cover Brits travelling abroad if the UK votes to leave the EU on June 23rd.
With 1,750,000 UK travellers enduring claimable delays and cancellations of over three hours every year and an estimated 66,769 claimable flights departing and arriving the UK since 2011, the regulation has ensured that an estimated £ 2.7 billion (€ 3.5 billion) of claimable flight compensation has been made available to UK passengers.
“With such steep financial penalties, airlines have had to up their game,” said Adeline Noorderhaven, UK manager of EUclaim. “Since 2011 there has been a 32% decrease in delays. If the UK leaves on June 23rd, this regulation would no longer be binding. There wouldn’t be the same incentive to perform and our busiest transit hubs such Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester could begin to crumble under the pressure as airlines pull focus to the continent.”
UK travellers also stand to lose their rights to ‘care’ in the event of a prolonged delay. Under current rules, if your flight is cancelled or delayed, the airline is obliged to offer refreshments, access to communication facilities, a free hotel and transfer in the event the delay goes into the night or even financial compensation in the event the airline downgrades you.
Under the current regulation UK passengers can issue legal proceedings against airlines in other EU member states, but a Brexit would put a halt to any legal recourse Brits currently enjoy.
Noorderhaven said: “The European Small Claims Procedure would disappear if we left the EU, meaning UK passengers would be obliged to issue proceedings in the country of the airline, giving little hope for the average UK passenger. At the moment, if a passenger flies with KLM from Amsterdam to London and is delayed for three hours or more, they would be entitled to compensation up to €600 per passenger and could issue proceedings in their own country if the airline failed compensate. This will no longer be possible if Brexit were to become a reality.
“This regulation is tangible evidence for Brits of the benefits of staying in the EU. £300 million is just the beginning; if the UK flight industry goes back to the same dire levels of delays as seen in 2011, we could see UK passengers missing out on over £400 million.”