EU steps in for air passengers

Airline passengers stranded due to overbooked, canceled or delayed flights will be entitled to financial compensation and assistance, according to a decision yesterday by the European Parliament. The measure will come into force in 12 months, following its ratification by the European Council, most likely in early 2005. «The new measures will probably be approved, despite objections from Germany and Britain due to pressure from smaller airlines,» said New Democracy Euro-Deputy Costas Hadzidakis, who negotiated the agreement. Unless airlines are able to show that the problem was due to forces beyond their control, they will have to compensate passengers by between 250 to 600 euros depending on the distance from their destination. Passengers must also be given the opportunity to choose another flight or to be reimbursed in order to buy another ticket. The airline will have to pay for the cost of all meals and overnight stays incurred.