On Monday 17 July 2023, Luxembourg's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Consumer Protection, Paulette Lenert, held a press conference to present the results of a report by the National Enforcement Body (NEB) on air passenger complaints.
The NEB is the national body responsible for supervising and enforcing the rights of passengers of all means of transport in accordance with European legislation; its activities are attached to Luxembourg's Ministry for Consumer Protection. In particular, the NEB offers a mechanism for resolving disputes between passengers and airlines and ensures respect for passenger rights. As the national reference body, it is committed to ensuring that airlines fully respect passenger rights as set out in European legislation, in particular Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 which aims to protect the rights of air passengers who suffer delayed or cancelled flights, overbooking or denied boarding and to establish minimum standards for compensation in such cases.
The number of complaints filed with the NEB declined in 2021 and 2022, a trend attributed mainly to the timid resumption of flights after the COVID-19 pandemic. This period marked by travel restrictions and a significant reduction in air traffic reduced interactions between passengers and airlines, which in turn contributed to a decrease in registered complaints, according to the authorities in Luxembourg.
However, with the aviation industry largely back up to speed in 2023, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of complaints lodged by passengers with the NEB. This increase can be attributed to several factors, including: greater frequency of flights; an increase in passenger numbers; better awareness among travellers of their rights; collaboration between the NEB and ministry partners, such as the ULC consumer protection association and the European Consumer Centre (CEC) Luxembourg.
Also on Monday, the Ministry for Consumer Protection, the ULC and the CEC Luxembourg signed a collaboration agreement in the area of air passenger complaint management aimed at simplifying the procedures for filing a complaint in relation to air passenger rights. This agreement is expected to make it possible to better assert the rights of air passengers through close collaboration between the signatories. As such, any complaint addressed to one of the signatories will be automatically transmitted to the competent authority, namely the NEB.
In this context, ULC Director Aline Rosenbaum also presented the activities of the ULC in relation to air passengers, in particular with regard to package travel. Karin Basenach, CEC Luxembourg Director, added that the CEC Luxembourg also receives many complaints, particularly regarding lost or damaged luggage.
Moreover, the ministry and the NEB launched a new information campaign which complements the parallel campaigns of the ULC and the CEC to inform consumers of their rights as air passengers. This campaign will run at Luxembourg Airport, with animations on passenger rights being shown on advertising screens, as well as the physical presence of the agreement signatories at a joint information stand, among other activities.
After the press conference, Minister Lenert stressed that "our objective is to ensure that every air passenger in Luxembourg feels confident during their travels. This is the reason why we are mobilising in this period of great holiday departures to better inform consumers of their rights as air passengers. In this regard, it is important for us to strengthen our cooperation with the ULC and the CEC Luxembourg in order to further improve the quality of the services offered to passengers and to simplify the procedures for them in the event of a problem in order to guarantee respect for their rights."