Passenger rights in the case of flight delays, cancellation or denied boarding?
Regulation (EC) 261/2004 sets out the rights and rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of delay, cancellation and denied boarding.
Details about the applicable passenger rights can be found on this link of the ‘Your Europe’ portal.
The Office for Consumer Affairs (OCA) within the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority (MCCAA) is the National Enforcement Body (NEB) responsible for the implementation of the rules emanating from Regulation (EC) 261/2004 in Malta.
The Maltese NEB is competent to deal with complaints from passengers concerning flights:
Departing from Malta; and
Flights departing from an airport in a third country destinated for Malta and if the operating air carrier is an EU carrier.
Passengers departing from an airport situated in another EU Member State may contact the NEB of that Member State (MS). A list of all the competent NEB’s can be found here.
Complaint Handling Process
Prior to referring their complaint to the MCCAA, passengers are first required to submit their complaint to the airline by filling in the EU complaint form and giving the airline a timeframe of 6 weeks within which to reply.
If the complainant is not satisfied with the outcome of the complaint following the response of the airline, an official complaint may then be submitted with the MCCAA. After reviewing the complaint, the Authority will start the complaint handling procedure.
Complaints to the Authority can be submitted either by completing the online form, by sending an email on email@example.com, or by personally visiting the MCCAA premises at Mizzi House, National Road, Blata l-Bajda, Hamrun HMR 9010.
What is required to process the complaint
When submitting a complaint to the MCCAA, passengers are requested to forward with their complaint the following information:
The EU Complaint Form filled with the relevant details as submitted to the airline;
Copy of all the correspondence exchanged with the airline;
Copy of the booking or airline tickets;
Copies of any other supporting documentation such as receipts for any extra expenses and for which reimbursement is being requested.
Once a complaint is submitted to the Authority, an acknowledgment is sent within 2 days of submitting the complaint. The Authority will review the case and will contact the passenger in case any information or clarification is required.
Once all the relevant information is received, the Authority will contact the airline on the complainant’s behalf and a timeframe of 6 weeks is allowed for MCCAA and airline communication to take place.
During this procedure, the MCCAA will be reviewing the airline’s replies to assess whether the submissions and declarations made by the airline with regards to the issue at hand are correct and in line with the applicable EU legislation. The MCCAA will remind the airline of its obligations towards the passenger as the case may be.
Outcome of the complaint procedure
While handling individual complaints, the NEB cannot oblige the airline to refund or compensate the complainant. Thus, if the airline maintains its position and an amicable solution is not reached, the complainant may decide whether to seek further redress through legal mechanisms, that is through the competent Court or Tribunal. The Authority will be able to give advice on the means of redress available to consumers in this case.
Enforcement of legislation
The MCCAA can initiate enforcement proceedings against airlines for breaches of Regulation (EC) 261/2004 which can result in the imposition of sanctions.
Enforcement proceedings are commenced if it results that prima facie there is a breach of the relevant legislation by the airline. Such proceedings are commenced by means of judicial proceedings.