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Ash chaos buck-passing brings 3rd EU warning

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Ash chaos buck-passing brings 3rd EU warning
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The fallout over extended travel expenses from the volcanic storm over Europe is far from abating.
Consumers’ frustrations continue as various business and leisure tourism players pass the buck over who should pay.

The returning traveller’s mantra seems to be ‘We were let down’.

One said: “We thought we’d be away even longer, since we didn’t hear a word from the tour operator. It was such a mess.”

Opinions differed over who is responsible for what in these cases.

Consumer rights specialist Jean-Philippe Ducart, with the consumer association Test-Achats, said: “Getting people home is in the package, and they shouldn’t have to pay extra, so some of these practices are illegal.”

But travel agencies say there are limits. They are reluctant to get out the cheque book.

Alain Varenne, at the Travel Agents Association UPAV, said: “We must do everything in our power to help the customer as much as possible, tour operator’s must accept that. But, once again, all these responsibilities depend on whether a case of ‘act of nature’ is legally invoked. If this is an act of nature, then it’s nobody’s fault, and if there’s no fault, there’s no compensation.”

For the third time in a week, the European Commission has laid down the law, singling out low-cost airlines for warnings that they will not be allowed to wriggle off the hook.

Siim Kallas, European Commissioner for Transport, said: “There are no ‘discount passenger rights’ for discount airlinea. All airlines have legal obligations under EU law.”