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Reforming Air Passenger Rights (“Long Delays”) in Turkey

Amidst the global aviation industry’s ongoing recovery, a critical question lingers for airlines based in Turkey: how to navigate the complex waters of European passenger rights regulations, particularly regarding long delay compensation. While Turkey itself is not an EU member, its strategic location and reliance on European tourism necessitate careful consideration of these regulations.

In L2b’s recent episode of Global Aviation News live stream, L2b member and aviation attorney A. Efe Erten of Turkey shed light on this intricate issue.

The crux of the matter lies in EU Regulation 261, governing passenger rights for denied boarding, delays, and cancellations. Though Turkey isn’t bound by this regulation, its applicability on flights departing from EU airports, even for non-EU carriers, adds a layer of complexity. A landmark 2009 ruling empowers passengers to seek compensation from non-EU airlines in European courts, further blurring the jurisdictional lines.

The focus then shifts to long delays, defined within the regulation based on duration and flight distance. Initially, EU 261 mandated only a “duty of care” for airlines in such scenarios. However, landmark court decisions paved the way for monetary compensation, impacting airlines financially and sparking debate.

Concerns surface from various stakeholders. Airlines highlight the financial burden, regional carriers view the regulation as anti-competitive, and passenger rights advocates express concerns about fairness. International Air Transport Association (IATA) calls for a reassessment, suggesting the regulation has deviated from its original intent and proposing solutions for a more balanced approach.

A new proposal aimed at striking a balance is on the horizon. It tackles long delays by introducing uniform compensation deadlines and considering long-haul challenges. Additionally, it defines “tarmac delay” and broadens the definition of “extraordinary circumstances,” potentially impacting Turkish carriers operating within the EU.

While Turkey adopted a similar regulation in 2012, mirroring EU 261, it was later overturned. Currently, no compensation system exists for long delays in the country. However, there’s a glimmer of hope. The author expresses the Turkish aviation authority’s desire to address this gap and urges them to consider the ongoing European discussions for a balanced approach.

Turkey and the EU need a solution that balances both passenger protection and airline sustainability. As Turkey navigates this turbulent regulatory landscape, drawing lessons from the ongoing European debate could prove crucial in ensuring fairness for all stakeholders and charting a smooth flight path for the future.

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