Air travellers flying from, to or through Denmark’s Copenhagen airport have been advised to be prepared this summer for potential flight delays and cancellations due to the lack of air traffic controllers.
In a press release, the Danish Civil Aviation and Railway Authority has warned travellers planning to fly soon and those who are about to book flights for their summer holiday to be informed in advance of the stopovers, and their rights to be reimbursed for a number of their expenses, in case their flight is cancelled or delayed.
The authority has also advised passengers to complain first to the airline with which they are flying, and then to the Swedish Transport Agency, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
Commenting on the issue, Lars Arent, who is the Head of Consumer Europe under the Danish Competition and Consumer Authority says, that at the time of purchasing a flight ticket, all travellers should check the conditions that apply to them, the airline and the airports.
In particular, she advises travellers who have a stopover in any airport, including Copenhagen, to be extra attentive to these conditions.
“If you have to make a stopover, book extra time for changing planes. It is also a really good idea to book one combined journey, so that the airline has to help you all the way if you miss your onward flight. You run the risk of paying all the costs of the flight you missed if you buy your own transfer tickets from a ticket agent,” she says.
The advice comes just after on May 7, around 1,500 passengers at Copenhagen Airport were subject to significant flight delays due to the insufficient number of air traffic controllers.
According to the EU Regulation 261/2004, all travellers holding a confirmed reservation for a flight that has been delayed are entitled to compensation, which is €250 for flights shorter than 1500 km, €400 for flights between 1500 km and 3500 km, and €600 for distances over 3500 km.
Yet, according to this regulation, in cases when the delay was not preventable by the airline or airport, like in the case of lack of air traffic controllers at the airport, travellers will not be entitled to such compensation.
Use this online eligibility checker, to see if you qualify for flight delay compensation.
Further explaining the issue, the head of office at the Danish Transport Agency, Line Elikofer, points out that though air traffic controller shortages are usually considered an exceptional circumstance beyond the control of the airlines, travellers can still have their flight reimbursed or at least rebooked.
“You also have the right to have expenses for food and hotel accommodation covered if the flight is significantly delayed,” she says.
Elikofer also advises travellers to first file their compensation or reimbursement/rebooking claim with the airline and if the latter refuses to compensate them, then a complaint should be presented to the Swedish Transport Agency.
“If you do not get a satisfactory answer from the airline within six weeks, you can complain directly and free of charge to the Swedish Transport Agency,” Elikofer says.
Since pandemic, Copenhagen has been suffering the layover of over 40 air traffic controllers, as in 2022 the air traffic bounced back way quicker than predicted, leaving the airport unable to fill in the positions it had cut during COVID, and the new ones created due to the demand.