AESA has received more than 20,000 passenger rights claims in 2021

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Madrid, 4 May 2022 (AESA)

In 2021, the State Aviation Safety Agency (AESA) received a total of 20,145 complaints relating to European passenger rights regulations on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding, cancellation or long delay of flights, as well as the rights of persons with reduced mobility (PMR). 

The Agency’s 2021 Annual Report on Passenger Rights Activity reflects a recovery in the sector following the severe impact of the Covid pandemic in 2020, as 30,000 fewer complaints have been received than in the previous year, when the record of complaints was broken as a result of massive flight cancellations, but there were almost 44 million more passengers than in 2020. 

In 2021, a total of 119,959,671 passengers were registered in Spain, 57.7 % more than in the previous year, while EASA received 20,145 complaints in the same period, 62.88 % less than in 2020.

Of the total claims, 2,063 were the responsibility of Authorities of other countries, 9,432 were for cancellations, 1,968 for delays, 521 for denied boarding of passengers, 4 for change of class, 3 related to the non-compliance with the rights of persons with disabilities or reduced mobility in air transport and 6,154 were claims in which the passenger did not provide the necessary information for processing.

It is necessary to bear in mind that passengers can only file a complaint with EASA once they have complained to the company and have not been satisfied with their rights. In this regard, the ten companies that have received the most complaints regarding the number of passengers carrying are Plus Ultra, Avianca, Alitalia, TAP Portugal, Norwegian International, Aerovías de México, Tarom (Romanian Air Transport), Aeroflot, LATAM and Aegean Airlines.

The EASA report shows that in 8 out of 10 complaints made to the Agency, the carriers during the processing of the complaint or at the end of the complaint responded to requests from passengers.

Information and Inspection Service

In addition to the processing of complaints, the Agency has at the disposal of air transport users a direct information service consisting of free advice by telephone, e-mail or Twitter, about their rights and how to act. In 2021 29,471 persons were thus advised.

Furthermore, AESA also carries out inspections of air carriers and airport managers in order to identify the level of compliance with passenger rights set out in the European regulations by air carriers operating in Spain and airport managers. In 2021, 153 inspections were carried out, 11 at airports, and 142 on airlines.

When the inspections carried out or by means of pre-action files reveal any infringement of European passenger rights regulations, AESA initiates penalty proceedings for non-compliance with these regulations. 

In 2021, the Agency proposed sanctions amounting to EUR 8 935 700. The figure is more than double that in 2020, this is due to the fact that this amount includes penalties for non-refundability or for poor information on reimbursement rights in cancellations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, which are counted in the financial year 2021. 

Improving the quality of air transport services and the protection of passengers’ rights is one of EASA’s strategic objectives by monitoring compliance with Passenger Rights regulations by addressing complaints, inspections and penalties.

EASA Annual Public Report 2021 activity on Passenger Rights