Refusal of access to European skies
Certain airlines are banned from operating in European airspace (including UK airspace) because they are found to be unsafe and/or they are not sufficiently overseen by their authorities.
The list of banned airlines is drawn up by the European Commission in close consultation with the aviation safety authorities of all European Union Member States.
Advice to UK consumers about flight cancellations by airlines that are restricted from operating within the European Union/United Kingdom
The UK Air Safety List (ASL), informally known as the "UK banned list", is a list of foreign airlines which do not fulfil the necessary international safety standards. This list is also applicable for airlines operating to and from the UK. Under the Air Safety List Regulation, passengers have the right to know the identity of every airline they fly with throughout their trip. The airline is required to inform you of the identity of the operating airline or airlines when making a reservation.
If an airline with which a booking has been made is subsequently added to the Air Safety List resulting in cancellation of your flight, you are protected by Air Passenger Rights Regulations. If your flight is cancelled you have the right to reimbursement, re-routing. If you are a transfer passenger and you have already completed part of your journey, you are also entitled to a flight back to your original departure point when your connecting flight is cancelled and you decide not to continue your journey.
You also have the right to assistance. Compensation is due if you were informed of the cancellation less than 14 days prior to the scheduled departure date. The airline has the obligation to prove if and when you were personally informed that the flight was cancelled.
If you booked directly with the airline which has been banned from flying in and out of the EU/UK we suggest that you get in touch with the airline referring to your rights established in the Passenger Rights Regulation. Should the airline fail to provide you with a reply within 6 weeks or, if you are not satisfied with their reply, you can refer your complaint to the CAA or to the relevant Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) body if the airline is a member of this network. This process may take some time and so we would encourage you to be patient.
Alternatively, if you paid by credit card you may be protected under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 and should contact your card issuer for further information. Similarly, if you paid by debit or charge card you should contact your card issuer for advice as you may be able to make a claim under their charge back rules.
This process may prove to be a quicker and more effective option than pursuing the airline, especially if the airline is difficult to contact, which can be the case in situations where an airline is banned from flying in and out of the EU/UK.
If you booked your flight ticket through a Travel Agent, you should speak to your agent in the first instance.
Consumers booking a package holiday or trip benefit from a high level of consumer protection. The Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations set out the obligations on package travel companies in such an event. In summary, if an airline is banned from flying in and out of the EU/UK, the package travel company may either make alternative flights available for you so that your trip can continue or may propose an alternative holiday or trip altogether.
You are not obliged to accept these changes and you can instead choose to receive a full refund. If you are abroad, the organiser should make alternative arrangements to bring you home at the end of your trip. Contact your package travel organiser for more information. If your booking is ATOL protected, please be aware that you will only be able to submit an ATOL claim to the CAA if the company providing your ATOL protection were to cease trading.
Usually, a number of airlines offer flights as a code share partner. If you hold a ticket for travel with the banned airline but purchased that ticket through another airline you should contact them to see what alternative arrangements can be made.
Passengers who booked directly with the company via either a credit, charge or debit card may alternatively be able to make a claim against their card provider. Some card providers will ask for a negative response letter confirming the position. You may also be able to make a claim against your travel insurer.
Your rights if the banned airline continue to operate flights through specific agreements
Banned airlines can apply to amend its Foreign Carrier Permit to authorise the use of substitute aircraft from another operator under a wet lease agreement (one airline, the lessor, provides an aircraft plus crew to another airline, the lessee). In case of such agreement, the Passenger Rights Regulation continues to apply, so in case of flight disruption, the banned airline is responsible to provide reimbursement, re-routing, assistance or compensation.