Blue Islands passengers ‘let down’ by lack of compensation for cancelled flights

Picture: Blue Islands. (38106093)

A CONSUMER expert is calling on the government to “urgently” close a gap in regulations which is leaving passengers flying from Jersey unable to claim hundreds of pounds in compensation.

A recent spate of Blue Islands cancellations – after “a hugely challenging set of circumstances” temporarily left it with just two aircraft – led to dozens of people criticising the airline’s compensation policies.

Blue Islands said that it complied with “all relevant regulatory requirements”. Being based in the Channel Islands means that EU and UK law on compensation does not apply to Blue Islands flights departing from Jersey and Guernsey.

Jersey-departing passengers are not entitled to the £200 lump-sum payment that UK-departing passengers, or passengers travelling on UK-based airlines such as easyJet and British Airways, can receive.

Carl Walker, who was recently re-appointed as chair of Jersey Consumer Council for three more years, said Islanders were being “tremendously let down” and “falling through a gap” and that ministers should look into “adopting similar cover [to the UK and EU] for consumers”.

Mr Walker said the JCC had already been “putting pressure” on Blue Islands to update their terms and conditions to make it clearer in which scenarios Islanders can make compensation claims.

EU261/2004 and UK261 protect customers if their flights are delayed, cancelled or overbooked, or if they are denied boarding. They allow passengers to claim up to £220 for shorthaul flights, and they make the airline responsible for providing meals, refreshments, accommodation and transport.

Blue Islands’ updated terms and conditions do make it clear that Islanders are not entitled to this – and the airline guarantees that for cancelled flights, they will reroute or refund passengers.

Mr Walker continued: “Because Jersey has not adopted those laws, people have to claim through insurance. The difficulty is that the response Islanders are getting from insurance companies is that they are covered by EU laws, which they are not. Those companies cannot understand we are not part of the EU or UK and are confused, and Islanders risk falling down a gap that’s been created after Brexit.

“We would urge the government to look at this urgently, and see if there’s a way of adopting the similar cover here for consumers, which would then put pressure on the airline to get its act together for travellers who are being tremendously let down at the moment by the airline without any real explanation of what’s going on.

“Jersey needs to somehow adopt those same regulations, or get the airline to sign up for them.

“I don’t know how possible or doable that is in the short term, but at the moment, this sends the message to potential tourists and businesses not to use a locally-based airline, take your money elsewhere.”

Dozens of Islanders have taken to social media to criticise Blue Islands following numerous cancelled or delayed flights.

Mike Aubert wrote: “We were booked with Blue Islands to Bristol to catch a connecting flight to Tenerife with Tui.

“We got called to the gate, then moved, then sent back to the terminal, then called again and were then told the flight was delayed about seven hours.

“Obviously we missed our connecting flights and we had to re-book and pay to travel on another airline to Tenerife via Gatwick.

“We received no compensation and couldn’t even claim from our travel insurance as they claimed it was weather delay. Other aircraft were travelling normally at the same time to the same airport with no weather problems.

“I’m several hundred pounds out of pocket and we lost a day of our one-week holiday.

“Never again and I would recommend walking rather than travel with them.”

Sue Townsend wrote: “How is Blue Islands allowed to operate. Their service is shambolic. They only appear to be good at ruining people’s holidays by cancelling flights time and time again. Why does Jersey have such crap flight and boat services?!?”

Derek Harvarde commented: “Law needs changing regards compensation over here.”

A spokesperson for the airline said: “Blue Islands always complies with all relevant regulatory requirements, including EU261 and provision of hotel accommodation where appropriate for flights departing from airports in Europe and the UK, details of which are in the terms and conditions.

“Impacted customers are provided with information as to what to do on occasions when a flight is disrupted.”

Last week, the operator said it was operating with 60% of their fleet, hampering their “usual levels of resilience” following “a hugely challenging set of circumstances” which saw three out of their five planes temporarily grounded at the weekend.

It added that a shortage of parts across the globe had “significantly delayed” maintenance works.

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