Skip to content
Home » Airline PaxEx » UK CAA Has Advice for International Passengers Affected by NATS Disruptions

UK CAA Has Advice for International Passengers Affected by NATS Disruptions

Rob Bishton, Joint-Interim Chief Executive of the UK Civil Aviation Authority, issued a statement addressing the rights of international passengers affected by the failure of the NATS air traffic control system in the UK at the beginning of the week.

Source: MAG Airports

“We know there are many passengers overseas that are impacted by flight delays and cancellations which can be frustrating when wanting to get home after a trip abroad.

“The scale of the disruption has meant passengers have faced longer delays and in some cases are waiting several days for alternative flights, but airlines are working around the clock, putting on extra capacity to resolve the issue.

“If you are still waiting to come home, airlines have a responsibility to look after you while you wait. This means providing you with meals, refreshments and hotel accommodation. If airlines cannot do this, you can organise your own meals and accommodation then claim costs back.

“We are engaging with airlines and know that more flights are being provided, but in circumstances where this has not been possible due to the volume of passengers, consumers can book their own alternative air travel and claim the cost back from their airline.

“If you end up paying for things yourself or booking your own replacement flight or hotel, keep every receipt and make sure your claim is not excessive.

“Clear and accurate communication is important during times of disruption, and we are working closely with airlines to rectify any instances of wrong information being provided to passengers.”

Rob Bishton, Joint-Interim Chief Executive of the UK Civil Aviation Authority

UK CAA’s Consumers and Markets Group Issues Guidance to Airlines on Passenger Rights

Recognizing that many travelers face issues due to flight delays and cancellations, the CAA issued airline guidance on passenger rights.

The CAA believes that the disruptions on 28 August and the subsequent issues are “extraordinary circumstances.” This means passengers might not be eligible for compensation for these specific delays and cancellations.

To minimize passenger inconvenience, the CAA is emphasizing the role of airlines in:

  1. Keeping passengers, especially those stranded abroad, well-informed and taken care of.
  2. Informing passengers of their rights.

If a flight is canceled, airlines should offer passengers:

  1. A refund.
  2. Immediate re-routing.
  3. Re-routing on a later date.

While re-routing can be tough during massive disruptions, “immediate re-routing” depends on each situation. Even though some airlines have added extra flights, certain passengers might face delays in reaching their destination or returning to the UK.

For passengers experiencing delays, airlines should:

  1. Provide meals, drinks, and appropriate accommodations.
  2. Pay special attention to those needing extra help.

If airlines fail to offer proper care or suitable alternative flights, they should reimburse passengers for expenses they incur on their own. However, passengers should avoid excessive costs.

Note: The CAA’s definition of “extraordinary circumstances” is just a guideline. Each case is unique. If passengers disagree with the CAA’s view, they can still seek compensation, even legally.

Statement from IATA Director General Willie Walsh on NATS system failure and compensation.

Earlier this week, the International Air Transport Association called for a review of passenger compensation policy. IATA’s Director General said the NATS failure exemplifies other times when airlines incur costs for flight disruptions outside their control.

“I feel for all the passengers that have suffered and continue to suffer huge inconvenience from the delays and cancellations caused by another meltdown of the UK National Air Traffic Services (NATS). I also sympathize with airline employees who face considerable additional stress dealing with the challenging recovery from this failure.

“NATS has crucial questions to answer about their responsibility for this fiasco. The failure of this essential service is unacceptable and brings into question the oversight of the CAA who are required to review the NATS resilience plan under the terms of its licence.

“This incident is yet another example of why the passenger rights system isn’t fit for purpose. Airlines will bear significant sums in care and assistance charges, on top of the costs of disruption to crew and aircraft schedules. But it will cost NATS nothing. The UK’s policy makers should take note. The passenger rights system needs to be rebalanced to be fair for all with effective incentives. Until that happens, I fear we will see a continuing failure to improve the reliability, cost efficiency, and environmental performance of air traffic control. The current system does not protect passengers. It hurts them.”

Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Cookie Consent with Real Cookie Banner