Coalition to introduce ‘pay-as-you-go’ bill to force airlines to compensate affected passengers

Deir an Seanadóir de chuid <span>National Bridget McKenzie ‘Australians deserve an aviation industry where planes leave and arrive on time and their bags come with them’.  The Coalition Government will present a bill to compensate for delayed flights.</span><span>Photo: Esther Linder/AAP</span>“src =”–/yxbwq9aglnagxhbmrlcjt3ptk2mdtoptu3ng–/https Commission/en/theguardian_763/d91231809028943964 D601B293E22C “data-SRC = “–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTU3Ng–/”/></div>
<p><figcaption class=Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie says ‘Australians deserve an aviation industry where planes take off and arrive on time and their bags come with them’. The Coalition Government will present a bill to compensate for delayed flights.Photo: Esther Linder/AAP

The Coalition will try to force the Albanian government to introduce an airline passenger compensation scheme that would make carriers pay delayed customers, in a so-called “delayed payment” bill.

On Friday, opposition transport spokeswoman and Nationals senator, Bridget McKenzie, and Liberal Senator Dean Smith announced their intention to introduce “a bill for an Act to require the Minister for Transport to make rules prescribing obligations of carriers, and for related purposes” when parliament returns later this month.

“Australians deserve an aviation industry where planes leave and arrive on time, and their bags come with them,” McKenzie and Smith said in a statement.

“The Delay Payment Bill is designed to clean up the Australian airline industry by ensuring concrete protections for passengers to, from and within Australia and its territories in the event of flight delays, cancellations, or denied boarding.”

The move seeks to tackle rising levels of dissatisfaction with airlines over increased delays and cancellations. In November 45% of flights between Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane were canceled or delayed.

The Coalition also appears to be responding to Qantas’ recent claim, made to defend against legal action from the consumer watchdog, that it does not sell tickets for any particular flight, but a “proper measure” that includes alternatives i. event of cancellations.

“The Bill will clarify that a passenger’s ticket is for a specific flight, to a specific destination, at a specific time,” said McKenzie and Smith.

Related: Two in five Australians have had a flight canceled or delayed by 12 months, survey says

“The Albanian government has failed to ensure our airlines do not take advantage of traveling Australians and instead have spent the last 18 months running a protection racket for Qantas which represents over 60% of Australia’s airline industry ,” the pair said.

Calls have been raised to introduce a compensation scheme based on laws already in place in the European Union and other countries, which would force airlines to pay cash to passengers delayed as a result of the operations of the airline, and not related to the weather. issues.

Such schemes also force airlines to compensate passengers for missed connections, and stipulate that payments must be made within days of the delay or cancellation.

In Europe, passengers whose flights arrive at their destination with a delay of more than three hours are entitled to between €250 (AUD$485) and €600 (AUD$1,165) each, depending on the length of the journey. A longer delay means passengers can opt to receive a full refund within seven days. If a delay means a passenger misses a connecting flight on the same booking, the airline must also pay compensation.

Related: Qantas decision to reduce flight capacity could lead to RBA rate rise, inquiry finds

The Coalition appears to be pressuring the transport minister, Catherine King, to consider such a scheme, as the government prepares its long-term aviation policy to be outlined in the white paper expected in the middle of the year. .

Qantas, in its submission to the aviation green paper process – the white paper’s predecessor – warned that a compensation scheme would be a “regressive step”, and would increase air fare costs instead of reducing flight disruptions.

The Coalition did not promote a specific model for a scheme in Australia.

Although the government has batted away criticism in recent months that it has made decisions that favor Qantas over travelers, other politicians have expressed their support for a compensation scheme to crack down on airlines affecting passengers.

The Independent MP for Kooyong in Melbourne, Monique Ryan, in November called for a scheme similar to that in place in the UK and EU as a matter of urgency.

Related: Qantas narrows down Australia’s best brands rankings with Bunnings at the top

“Airlines like Qantas are acting less like national treasures and more like the sky mafia,” she said.

Ryan also suggested that a compensation scheme could address allegations of slot abuse made against Qantas and larger airlines, which deny claims that they are scheduling more flights than they intend to operate out of airports, particularly Sydney, before being strategically canceled with the goal of stifling competition. from launching rival services.

“Not only would this protect consumer rights, it would reduce cancellations and delays. Airlines will be less interested in canceling or delaying flights if they have to pay up to $100,000 in compensation per flight,” said Ryan.

Consumer advocate Choice, as well as the Australian Lawyers Alliance, also called for a compensation scheme, and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission also recommended it in its submission to the government’s aviation green paper last year.

A spokesman for King said the issue would be addressed through the white paper process. “The Minister has repeatedly referred to the need for increased protections for consumers.”

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