SIA facing action by UK regulator over flight-delay payouts

Singapore Airlines is one of five major carriers facing enforcement action from Britain's Civil Aviation Authority for allegedly denying passengers compensation for flight delays.
Singapore Airlines is one of five major carriers facing enforcement action from Britain's Civil Aviation Authority for allegedly denying passengers compensation for flight delays. PHOTO: REUTERS

Singapore Airlines (SIA) is one of five major carriers facing enforcement action from Britain's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for allegedly denying passengers compensation for flight delays.

SIA is in touch with the authority on the matter, a spokesman told The Straits Times.

"There is a lack of clarity in the law which is currently the subject of ongoing litigation before the Court of Appeal," she said.

SIA will continue to work with the British regulator "to resolve our differences", she added.

Under European rules, passengers are legally entitled to compensation if they arrive at the final destination of their journey more than three hours late - unless owing to extraordinary circumstances beyond the airline's control.

These rights apply to any flight departing from within the European Union, the CAA said in a statement on its website yesterday.

Besides SIA, the other airlines under probe are Emirates, Etihad, Turkish Airlines and American Airlines. In its statement, the CAA said the airlines have confirmed that they do not pay compensation to passengers who have experienced a delay on the first leg of a flight that caused them to miss a connecting flight and, as a result, arrive at their final destination more than three hours late.

"The airlines' refusal to pay compensation in these instances fails to meet the legal passenger rights requirements for flight disruption," the CAA said. According to the British regulator, about 200,000 passengers a year travelling on these airlines could be at risk of not receiving their due compensation.

The authority decided to take action after a comprehensive review of airline policies for supporting passengers experiencing disruption.

The review looked at the different policies of the top 31 airlines operating in Britain.

CAA director of consumers and markets Richard Moriarty said: "Any disruption to a flight is frustrating for passengers, but delays that cause people to miss connecting flights have a particularly damaging effect on people's travel plans.

"That is why there are clear laws in place to make sure passengers who experience this type of disruption are looked after by their airline and compensated when the disruption was in the airline's control."

Editor-in-chief of money.co.uk Hannah Maundrell told The Straits Times: "If your travel plans have been disrupted because of a delayed flight with one of these airlines, check if you can make a claim for compensation. You could get back up to £500 (S$880) per person, so it is worth pursuing even if they have already said 'no'.

"Do not go via a claims company as it will take a massive cut. You just need to contact the airline... If your claim is turned down, do not stop. You can escalate your case to the CAA or an ombudsman who will see if you have been treated fairly."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 23, 2017, with the headline 'SIA facing action by UK regulator over flight-delay payouts'. Print Edition | Subscribe