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Air passenger complaints have doubled

The number of complaints from European air passengers has exploded to double the amount during one year. This is revealed in a new report by the European Consumer Centres Network. Passengers who flew with Irish or Spanish airlines accounted for almost half of the complaints.

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Flying in Europe has become cheap and easy in recent years. A plane ticket to Berlin or London can easily cost the same as a train ticket to the other end of the country, and this has tempted many Europeans to make flying visits to other European metropolises. However, the increase in flight traffic has also brought more complaints about lost luggage, flight cancellations and delays.

A new report on air passenger rights reveals that the number of complaints from European air passengers has doubled in the past year. The complaints were sent to the European Consumer Centres Network in the respective countries and the figure therefore does not include complaints sent direct to the airlines in question.

However, the report also shows that Spanish and Irish airlines account for almost half of all the European complaints.

This also affects Danish air passengers who are happy to buy flights from airlines in other European countries – provided they can get them cheap and still fly from Denmark.

“The consumers benefit from the cheap tickets resulting from competition in the EU, and this is very positive. But some of the Spanish and Irish airlines in particular are having problems providing consumers with the help and the services they are entitled to when something goes wrong along the way. This should be kept in mind before saying yes to a special offer,” says Peter Fogh Knudsen, Director of European Consumer Centre Denmark.

He also sees it as a problem that the Spanish and Irish authorities’ interventions have been unsuccessful in relation to the airlines in their countries that have trouble observing the market regulations.

“The number of complaints about airlines from Spain and Ireland alone has tripled during the past year. So if these airlines toed the line and gave consumers the rights to which they are entitled, it would result in considerably fewer unsatisfied air passengers in the future,” says Peter Fogh Knudsen.

He would like to encourage his Irish and Spanish colleagues to lobby for efficient supervision and enforcement in Spain and Ireland. He will also be working to ensure that cooperation with the law enforcement authorities is intensified to maintain their awareness of the extent of the problems.

Who is European Consumer Centre Denmark:

European Consumer Centre Denmark is part of a European network of consumer centres that cooperates across national borders to help consumers with problems in connection with cross-border purchases in the EU. European Consumer Centre Denmark is funded by the Danish Consumer Agency and the European Commission.

Facts from the report:

The report reveals, among other things, that in 2006, the European Consumer Centres Network received 4,900 enquiries about air passengers’ rights, which equals 14% (Denmark 9%) of the total number of enquiries made to the network. The previous year, 2,700 enquiries were received.

Altogether, 3,000 of the 4,900 enquiries were specific complaints about airlines. Approximately 3% of these concerned Danish airlines. In 2005, the figure was 1%.

Read the report “Air Passenger Rights: Consumer Complaints 2006"  (www.ec.europa.eu)