Dubai’s Emirates has accused the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) of being “misleading and unprofessional” after it said the airline was facing action for failing to compensate passengers over flight delays.
The carrier was among five the CAA said were facing enforcement action on Wednesday for their policies regarding delays of more than three hours for connecting passengers.
Under European rules, passengers are legally entitled to compensation if they arrive at the final destination of their journey more than three hours late – including connecting flights – unless it is due to extraordinary circumstances, according to the CAA.
The regulator said these rights apply to any flight departing an EU airport regardless of the nationality of an airline and it had taken action after repeated efforts to get the airlines to change their policies.
However an Emirates spokesperson disputed this claim saying the airline complies will all legal requirements and regulations and the EU law on the issue was currently subject to an appeal.
“The way in which the CAA has communicated this issue is both misleading and unprofessional,” the spokesperson said.
“As the CAA is well aware, the recent EU guidelines on EC 261 are not intended to amend the law. The issue of EC 261’s application to our flights from the UK involving a stopover in Dubai is currently pending before the Court of Appeal.”
The spokesperson went on to say the airline would rigourously defend its position and challenge the “blanket application” of the law without consideration of context or passenger safety.
“Emirates, like any responsible airline, puts the safety of our passengers first and to be penalised for this is absurd,” the spokesperson added, saying delays are often caused by factors beyond the airline’s control.
In the CAA report, Emirates was named as the most complained about carriee for non-payment of compensation for delays to connecting flights.
The regulator urged the group, which included Etihad Airways, American Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Turkish Airlines, to implement independent dispute resolution systems to resolve passenger compensation issues.
Turkish was the only airline found to have an alternative dispute resolution system in place.
“Airlines’ first responsibility should be looking after their passengers, not finding ways in which they can prevent passengers upholding their rights,” Richard Moriarty, director of consumers and markets at the CAA, said in the report.