13 August 2018
by Christian Bogaru, Managing Partner
The Regulation (EC) No. 261/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 February 2004 establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights (hereinafter referred to as “the Regulation”) aims to provide protection to air passengers of the flights inside the EU, any flights departing from an EU airport, and other flights operated by EU airlines if they arrive to a European airport.
According to the Government Decision no. 1912/2006, the designated body responsible for the enforcement of this Regulation in Romania is the National Authority for Consumer Protection (ANPC in Romanian).
The Regulation is applicable if one of the following incidents occurs:
- denied boarding
- cancelation of a flight
- significant delays
- downgrading (if an operating air carrier places a passenger in a class lower than that for which the ticket was purchased)
- if an air carrier does not respect the obligation to inform passengers of their rights
The main obligations that an air carrier has if one of these incidents takes place are to take care of the passengers, to provide the reimbursement or a re-routing and to pay a compensation.
The right to care includes the provision of food and drink for a delay exceeding two hours, but also hotel accommodation, if necessary, and transport between the airport and the place of accommodation.
The free re-routing or the reimbursement right applies in the case of a cancelation of a flight or in the case of a delay of more than 5 hours.
If because of the cancellation or the long delay, the trip is no longer serving any purpose in relation to the passenger’s original travel plan, the passenger is entitled to ask either the reimbursement and a return flight to the first point of departure, if case, or a re-routing, under comparable transport conditions, to their final destination.
According to the Regulation’s provisions, the passengers are also entitled to obtain a financial compensation. The value of the compensation depends upon the distance of the flight:
(a) EUR 250 for all flights of 1500 kilometers or less;
(b) EUR 400 for all intra-Community flights of more than 1500 kilometers, and for all other flights between 1500 and 3500 kilometers;
(c) EUR 600 for all flights of more than 3500 kilometers, if the departure is from an EU airport or the arrival of a flight operated by an EU air carrier is realized on an airport situated in the EU.
The compensation is due in case of denied boarding, cancelation of the flight without two weeks prior notification of the passenger or prior notification and re-routing under strictly determined conditions. The right to compensation also applies in case of flight misconnection within the same booking and in accordance with the CJEU jurisprudence and the Commission Notice containing the Interpretative Guidelines on Regulation (EC) No. 261/2004, in case of a delay at arrival of at least three hours.
In order to obtain the compensation, the first step that a passenger must take is to address a written complaint to the concerned airline company. In case of a refusal or if no answer is received, the passenger has the right to make a complaint to ANPC. This procedure is not mandatory, and its effects are limited to a possible pecuniary sanction inflicted by ANPC to the airline company.
The Romanian law allows the passenger who is the victim of the incident to make a claim in front of a Court if the airline company refuses to pay the compensation due in the virtue of the Regulation.
In case of a direct prejudice suffered by the passenger because of the flight incident (e.g. loss of an important business meeting, failure to fulfil an assumed task/obligation), it is possible, according to the Romanian legislation, to demand, in addition to the compensation settled by the EU Regulation, to be compensated for the damaged suffered.
We strongly recommend the assistance of a professional lawyer to make a successful claim in front of the Romanian Courts.