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EP Transport Committee wants to reduce protection for overbooked air travellers - BEUC

23 October 2002, 22:41 CET

The Commission have proposed a new regulation to give better protection to air travellers who are denied boarding through overbooking or who suffer from cancellation or long delays. The EP Transport Committee wants to weaken that proposal with a series of amendments that would substantially reduce the protection offered to air travellers. BEUC asks the Parliament meeting in plenary this week to restore the level of protection offered in the Commission's proposal.

The Commission wants the regulation to include flights that form part of a package tour. The Transport Committee wants to confine the scope to "seat-only" bookings.

The Commission propose compensation of 1500 euros for overbooking on long distance flights and 750 euros on shorter flights (less than 3500 kilometres). The Transport Committee wants limits of 200, 400, and 600 euros, depending on the length of the flights.

The Commission wants airlines and tour operators to contact overbooked passengers to negotiate a solution whenever it seems a flight will be cancelled. The Transport Committee says airlines need to contact passengers "to explain alternatives" only if the flight is cancelled within 48 hours of the scheduled time of departure.

The Transport Committee also wants to reduce air travellers rights by expanding the scope of "force majeure" exceptions and for those travellers who have booked non-refundable or "limited-change" tickets.

BEUC asks the Parliament to reject the amendments proposed by the Transport Committee and to support the Commission on all these points.

"Airlines may try to avoid overbooking MEPs or other important people", said Jim Murray, BEUC Director, "but they are not so careful with other passengers. We appeal to the Parliament not to water down the important protections proposed by the Commission".

BEUC, the European Consumers' Organisation, is the Brussels based federation of independent national consumer organisations from all the Member States of the EU and from other European countries. Our job is to try to influence, in the consumer interest, the development of EU policy and to promote and defend the interests of all European consumers.

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