European Airlines Must Pay Stranded Passengers
STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
Vicki Barker has more from London.
VICKI BARKER: European commissioners say airlines can seek bailouts from their national governments, just this once. Siim Kallas is Europe's Transport Commissioner.
SIIM KALLAS: Exceptional circumstances of recent days may justify support measures to offset losses incurred.
BARKER: Michael O'Leary runs Ryanair, the Irish carrier that famously charges extra for wheelchairs and is seriously considering onboard pay toilets.
MICHAEL O: We have this unfair legislation that applies to airlines, where it says, regardless of what the ticket price, you've got to pay unlimited refunds.
OLIVER AUST: Well, we do accept it in the legislation, but the legislation isn't fit for purpose.
BARKER: Oliver Aust is a spokesman for Ryanair's rival, EasyJet. He says the law was intended to protect passengers from such airline-induced delays as overbooked flights.
AUST: It was never meant to make airlines be unsure of last resort in the case of natural disaster.
BARKER: Unfortunately for the airlines, that angle wasn't written into the law. In fact, the way it's worded, legal expert Damian Chalmers says, it can arguably apply to U.S. airlines too.
DAMIAN CHALMERS: For example, American Airlines, who have a plane let's say leaving from Heathrow or Frankfurt or whatever, they would have to apply compensation in those circumstances.
BARKER: For NPR News, I'm Vicki Barker in London.
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