Press Release

We must protect passengers left stranded when airlines go bankrupt - says Stephen Hughes MEP

"People look forward to their holidays all year, we must protect passengers left stranded when airlines go bankrupt," Labour's Stephen Hughes, first Vice-President of the Socialist Alliance said today. The European Parliament meeting in Strasbourg passed legislation today calling on the European Commission to come up with proposals to safeguard passengers. "We've won support from all groups of MEPs in the European Parliament for this, from the Left to the Right, except the small extremist euro-sceptic rump that includesthe British Conservatives. They voted against a consensus that protects passengers agreed on by virtually all political parties from 27 other countries," he added. "Over the last nine years, 77 airlines have fallen into bankruptcy, and many of these have been in the past eighteen months as the economic crises and high fuel prices have hit the airline industry hard. Even the major airlines now seem in a precarious position. "This trend is not likely to end in the near future, so I am pushing for something to be put in place that protects both the passengers who are left stranded andthe people who have bought tickets for flights that can't be taken and have lost money as a result. "This resolution calls on the European Commission to come up with ideas that would better protect passengers and customers of bankrupt airlines," he said. The resolution suggests three possible options to the European Commission:- 1) A compulsory insurance scheme, where airlines would all have to pay a small insurance fee that would be used to compensate customers who have lost money buying tickets with a bankrupt airline, that would also provide alternative transport for stranded passengers. 2) A voluntary insurance scheme, wherepassengers could choose to pay a small fee to the airline when buying tickets that again would be used as compensation. 3) Creation of an "EU Guarantee Fund". When companies go bankrupt, their aircraft are impounded by national regulatory bodies. The resolution also calls on the Commission to investigate the quick release of impounded aircraft so these aircraft can be used to bring stranded travellers home straight away. Ends. For further information please ring Stephen Hughes on 07770 914526 or Cyndi Beaver on 077 641 98400