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Travellers affected by this week's aviation strike to be offered compensation

Illustration picture shows passengers at Brussels Airport, in Zaventem. (BELGA PHOTO BRUNO FAHY)
06:06 20/06/2022

‎Passengers affected by the strike in the aviation sector this week, conducted as part of the national action on 20 June, will be entitled to compensation depending on their circumstances, RTBF reports.

"Consumers whose flight would be cancelled due to the strike announced at Brussels Airport on Monday 20 June, at Brussels Airlines on 23, 24 and 25 June or at Ryanair on 23, 24 and 25 June, are entitled to another flight or refund," said the secretary of state for consumer protection Eva De Bleeker in a statement on Sunday.

People who have booked a package tour that includes a cancelled flight should contact the tour operator. In most cases, this is the travel agency which made the booking. The travel agency must offer an equivalent alternative holiday or one with a corresponding price reduction. It's also possible to cancel the trip free of charge and get a full refund.

For those who have purchased a separate flight ticket, compensation depends on the exact inconvenience that the person has incurred. Anyone who arrives at the final destination with a delay of more than three hours is entitled to compensation, except in the case of ‘force majeure’ or unforeseeable circumstances. If the flight departure time is delayed by at least five hours or the flight is cancelled, the passenger is entitled to another flight or refund. In addition, the passenger is also entitled to compensation, except in cases of force majeure. This compensation amounts to €250, €400 or €600, depending on the distance.

Strikes by airline staff due to working conditions are not considered ‘force majeure’. Strikes by third parties, such as air traffic control or airport staff, are considered to be cases of ‘force majeure’.

Finally, in cases of delays of two hours of additional waiting time from the moment of departure (delay of departure), the airline is obliged to offer meals and refreshments, depending on the waiting time. Passengers also have the right to two free phone calls or emails or, if necessary, one night at a hotel and transport to a hotel, if the airline changes the traveller's flight.

If the airline refuses to change or refund the ticket, travellers can file a complaint to the federal mobility department. They can also contact the Consumer Ombudsman Service (in case of a problem with Belgian companies) or the European Consumer Centre (in case of a problem with foreign companies) to find an amicable settlement.

However, consumers may lose their right to compensation or reimbursement if they make alternative travel arrangements themselves.

Written by Nick Amies