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Emirates accuses UK's aviation body of acting 'unprofessionally'

Emirates has accused the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) of acting unprofessionally over claims it breached laws by not paying compensation to passengers who experience a delay.

The Dubai-based airline denied breaking any law with regard to payment of passenger compensation for delayed flights, after the CAA launched enforcement action against it and four other international carriers.

The CAA said the airlines – Emirates, Etihad Airways, American Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Turkish Airlines – breached consumer law by not paying compensation to passengers who experience a delay on the first leg of a flight that in turn causes them to miss a connecting flight and thereby arrive at their final destination more than three hours late.

Passengers on long-haul flights who experience delays of between three and four hours are entitled to 300 euros ($316) compensation, while those delayed by more than four hours are entitled to 600 euros ($632).

The CAA said the airlines’ refusal to pay compensation in these instances fails to meet European Union laws regarding passenger rights requirements for flight disruption.

An Emirates spokesperson said: “As one of the world’s largest airlines, we comply with all legal requirements and regulations as set by the relevant authorities.

“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.

“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.”

On Thursday, Etihad Airways also hit back, 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.”

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