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Should Emirates and Etihad pay passenger compensation for all flight delays?

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A flight delay is one of the most frustrating things that can happen to you while travelling. But it seems that it’s not just passengers who get exasperated by these events.

Emirates and Etihad have both hit back at the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), over claims that they refused to pay passengers compensation over delayed flights. Both UAE carriers have denied any wrongdoing.

The CAA recently pursued action against four international airlines – Emirates, Etihad, American Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Turkish Airlines – for not paying compensation to delayed passengers, which they say is a breach of European law.

According to the CAA, customers travelling on long-haul flights which are delayed more than three hours should be given $316, while those delayed more than four hours should be given $632.

Emirates responded to say that the CAA have failed to take into account that many causes for delay are beyond their control, such as weather or bird strikes.

“The safety of our passengers and crew always comes first, and many flight delays are caused by factors that are beyond our control and which are not the airline’s responsibility – such as inclement weather, bird strikes, and airport closures.

“We do everything possible to ensure that any disruption caused to our passengers is minimised. In the event of flight delays or cancellations, we always ensure that our customers are looked after.”

The airline also hit back at the CAA for the way that they have handled the issue, saying: “The way in which the CAA has communicated this issue is both misleading and unprofessional. 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.

“We will rigorously defend our position, and challenge the blanket application of EC 261 to every situation, without consideration of context or the safety of our passengers. Emirates, like any responsible airline, puts the safety of our passengers first and to be penalised for this is absurd.”

Etihad responded similarly, saying: “Etihad Airways has been engaged in constructive dialogue with the Civil Aviation Authority in the UK on the issue of passenger compensation over several months.

“We take such matters very seriously and in no way look to breach the law. Therefore, before even completing the dialogue, we find the CAA’s approach wholly ‘unprofessional and unacceptable’ to publicly blame Etihad Airways for infringements to passengers’ rights which we unreservedly deny.”

Do you think that passengers should get compensation for delays, even if the reason is beyond the airline’s control? Let us know your thoughts.

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