Irish passengers whose flights were delayed or cancelled in 2013, or who were denied boarding, are due refunds of nearly €52 million, according to AirHelp, the web and mobile service that recovers refunds and compensation for air passengers all over the world. AirHelp recently joined forces with Brian Whelan, founder of Irish passenger rights website, www.airtaxback.com, who is now AirHelp’s Country Manager for UK and Ireland, E: [email protected], M: 086 817 7178, T: 01 544 7852.
EU Regulation 261 was established in 2004 to ensure air passengers whose flights have been delayed, cancelled, or overbooked are compensated on a sliding scale according the duration of the cancellation and distance of flight to be taken. Refunds per passenger can be up to €600 but, according to AirHelp, the average across the 66,000 passengers they have already assisted is €500.
AirHelp has proprietary software that aggregates all the available information on flight schedules in and through Europe and also those delayed or cancelled, creating a unique insight into the likelihood of refunds being available, under EU Regulation 261. Their findings for Ireland are as follows:
National Airport Data – Ireland 2013
Compensation-eligible flights: 836
Compensation-elgible seats: 102,914
Total Compensation (if average refund is €500): €51,875,000
Obstacles to Compensation
AirHelp has found that 8.1 million passengers were entitled to refunds in 2013 worldwide, but less than 1% actually receive their rightful compensation. Brian Whelan says that there are two main reasons for this: “Firstly, people aren’t aware of the full extent and value of their entitlements and, secondly, they are understandably put off by the obstacles to compensation that are placed in their path.”
Brian explained that, according to a recent study carried out by AirHelp across Europe, 50% of airlines ignore claims, failing to even answer them within the six week deadline determined by the EU, and 8% are rejected without any reason being given. But most revealing of all, he says, is the finding that 93% of those claims that are answered but rejected, are rejected on grounds that the European Court of Justice do not deem to be valid. “Faced with resistance like this, it’s no wonder most individuals don’t pursue their applications,” he added.
Automated Systems and Legal Network
AirHelp overcomes these obstacles with a combination of highly automated systems with a success rate of 90% of claims and a Europe-wide network of legal advisors.
AirHelp scored a significant legal victory in Ireland last November when Ryanair settled in full a case brought to the Small Claims Court on behalf of an Irish passenger. There are several hundred more in the pipeline, according to Brian Whelan.
AirHelp was launched in May 2013 by Danish entrepreneurs Nicolas Michaelsen, Henrik Zillmer and Greg Roodt. Through personally experiencing the challenges of submitting a claim, the team recognised the need for passenger assistance when seeking flight compensation. Originally based in the UK, AirHelp now has a head office in New York, with operations in 17 countries.