Delayed and Canceled Flights To Be Compensated
06 September, 2012
Delayed and Canceled Flights To Be Compensated

Air companies operating at Georgian market should pay compensation and offer assistance to the passengers if they cancel or delay flights on their own reason starting September 1, 2012. 

“Dear passengers, If your flight is cancelled or is subject to a long delay for two or more hours, or if you are denied boarding on a flight for which you hold a valid reservation, you are entitled to demand information on your rights respective assistance and compensations at registration desk or

boarding unit,” this kind of bilingual announcement [written in Georgian and English languages] will warn passengers at registration desks of Georgian airports in pursuance with the new rule of Georgian Civil Aviation Agency (GCCA) that entered into effect starting September 1, 2012.

The new regulation was elaborated on the basis of European Common (EC) Regulation issued on February 11 of 2004 as well as in accordance with Agreement on European Common Aviation Area (ECAA) - a multilateral agreement between the European Community and its Member States agreement – so as to make protection of passengers’ rights closer to European regulation.

The law regulates rights of passengers as well as air-companies. It entitles passengers to demand compensations and assistance from air-companies only if the fault on cancelation and delay of flights falls on the side of air-companies.

The assistance includes a package of services as following: meals and refreshments, accommodation [at a hotel or any other residential place] if a passenger has to spend a night and more in expectation; passengers’ delivery to the living space; the possibility of making two telephone calls,  make available fax, telefax and e-mail.  Special attention should be paid to the demands of disabled and handicapped persons, their attendants and children who travel without attendance. The regulation foresees not only reimbursement of compensation but also proper provision passengers with the information.

These rights are not granted if passengers have been denied boarding on reasonable ground, such as reasons of health, safety or security, or inadequate travel documentation. Also, passengers cannot demand any kind of compensation if cancelation occurred due to unforeseen extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken. Examples include bad weather conditions, political instability, strikes, security risks, unexpected flight safety shortcomings, and technical aircraft problems.

If air-companies delay or cancel flights due to their own shortcomings that might be avoided they bear full responsibilities against passengers in pursuance with the law.

The pecuniary compensations duplicate the international tariff rates and depend on the distance of the scheduled flight or the alternative flight proposed to passengers and breaks down as following: EUR 250 for flights up to 1500 km, EUR 400 - for flights between 1500 km and 3500 km, EUR 600 for flights of more than 3500 km.

Air-carriers can cut down the compensations by 50% if it offers an alternative flight that will take the passenger to the final place of destination and the arrival time of which does not exceed 2 hours in respect of flights up to 1500 km, 3 hours in respect of flights between 1500 km and 3500 km, 4 hours if distance exceedes 3500 km. Compensations can be paid in cash and electronic transfer.

There are five airports in Georgian but only three Tbilisi International Airport and Batumi International Airport both managed by the Turkish-based TAV Urban Georgia as well as Mestia local airport at Georgian highland area are functional as of yet. Kutaisi airport is scheduled to be opened by end of September. Passengers say delay and cancelation of flights is not rare at Georgian airports due to technical reasons as well as low passenger-turnover and seasonal effect, but neither the United Airport Administration of Georgia, nor TAV management provided with timely comments to explain reasons.

Air-companies avoid commenting too but informally say no special regulation was necessary.

Nino Giorgobiani, a spokesperson of Georgian Airways largely known as Airzena, denied commenting the new regulation although she assured that Georgian Airways has always been closely keeping with the flight-schedule as well as with compensation rules.

“We implement flights by 90% and face problems only in winter at Batumi airport mainly for mist and weather conditions because there is only one way of landing from the seaside that is misty and hampers flights. As to compensations, we do international flights and have always been observing international standards to this end, we always paid compensations for canceled flights or insured by alternative flights,” Giorgobiani told Georgian Journal.

Giorgi Kodua, President of Sky Georgia, thinks that GCAA copied the EU law completely, which is non-professional. Therefore, the law needs further refinement in cooperation with air companies.

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