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Airline Bailouts: How Will They Affect Passengers?

  • Airlines exploit the COVID-19 crisis to reduce air passenger rights.
  • Their actions may leave travelers stripped of up to 80% of current rights. 
  • As passengers are paying to bailout airlines via their tax bill, they should not have their rights undermined in return.  
  • Maintaining strong air passenger rights should be a non-negotiable condition of any bailout.

With most flights grounded and canceled due to the corona crisis, there is no doubt the aviation industry needs financial support. United States airlines are now asking for loans upwards of $50 billion. While taxpayers are expected to finance these rescue packages, their rights are being taken away from them by the same airlines they are about to save. 

Currently, travelers flying to Europe on a European airline, making a stopover in the EU, or departing from the EU on any airline are entitled to compensation for avoidable disruptions under passenger rights law EC261. Ever since the European Union decided to revise the original 2004 Passenger Rights Regulation (EC261) in 2013, airlines have been lobbying vigorously to weaken passenger rights, for commercial reasons. If these changes were to be pushed through, passengers will be stripped of up to 80% of their current rights under EC 261. The Association of Passenger Rights Advocates (APRA) warns that the current COVID-19 crisis should not be exploited to push this agenda. 

Christian Nielsen, board member and spokesperson of APRA said: “Every year, more than 40 million passengers are impacted by flight cancellation globally, with many left stranded at the airport – through no fault of their own – and forced to incur extra expenses and other negative consequences. These are the passengers that need strong air passenger rights. Regulation EC261 offers them this much needed protection. We understand that this is a time of crisis for airlines, but it is a crisis for everyone around the world – especially individuals and passengers. These short-term circumstances can not be an excuse for long-term changes in passenger rights.” 

APRA is fighting to keep passengers’ rights at least as strong as they are. EC 261 has proven to keep airlines in check and to fly more is clear that airlines’ profits have barely been impacted by EC 261 in the past, so there is no reason for these laws to be weakened now. 

About the Author

New York Trend is a weekly news publication that focuses on issues and lifestyles of the African & Caribbean American communities throughout the New York metropolitan area and Nassau and Suffolk Counties of Long Island. It is a respected and well recognized news publication that has been in existence since 1989. Owner, Publisher and Executive Director, Dr. Teresa Taylor Williams has been at the helm of this award-winning publication since its inception. New York Trend continues to be the only black woman-owned, metropolitan newspaper in New York and Long island. New York Trend is the largest black-owned newspaper throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties.

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