Airline bankruptcies: MEPs call for better passenger compensation

Its pleasing to see that at least MEPs are seeing travel sense with their recent call for "Passengers who have booked flights with airlines that go bankrupt should be guaranteed compensation and assistance".

In a resolution adopted by a show of hands, Parliament asks the Commission to consider proposing new legislation to ensure passengers are not left stranded without accommodation or a flight home. MEPs suggest that establishing a "reserve compensation fund" and introducing "mutual responsibility" for passengers of all airlines flying in the same direction with available seats, could help to get stranded passengers home.

"Many of these passengers do not have the financial means to deal with this sort of upheaval. They are from those families who spend their savings on a family holiday, only to see their hard-earned money go down the drain through little fault of their own", Transport Committee chair Brian SIMPSON (S&D, UK), told the Commission in a plenary debate last month.

Existing EU legislation deals with ticket price transparency (Regulation: 1008/2008), and compensation for passengers denied permission to board (Regulation 261/2004), but MEPs believe there is still a loophole that needs to be closed in cases where an airline is declared bankrupt after customers have bought their tickets online.

As we cast our eyes back it is staggering to analysis the statistics with some perspective, which show that a total of 77 airlines have filed for bankruptcy in the European Union since 2000. The latest to do so, in summer of 2009, was Sky Europe, whereby many of the passengers involved were left without any compensation whatsoever for tickets purchased.