Finnair Faces €1.5m Fines In Passenger Compensation Dispute

File photo of Finnair plane / Credit; News Now Finland

Finland’s Consumer Ombudsman is taking national airline Finnair to court, and it could face fines of up to €1.5 million over the way it handles passenger compensation claims.

The Ombudsman says Finnair should pay the proper EU-regulated compensation for any flights delays or cancellations.

At present, Finnair only pays up the problem is their own fault. If they decide the problem is the fault of the plane’s design or manufacturer, Finnair doesn’t pay the full EU-regulated compensation. Instead, they often offer a voucher, or cash payment lower than a passenger would be entitled to receive under EU rules.

“We think there is a difference between how the Consumer Ombudsman in Finland approaches this, and how it is approached in other EU countries” Finnair’s Director for Media Relations Päivyt Tallqvist tells News Now Finland.

“We looked at several different EU countries and many approached it along the lines we have” she adds.

Tallqvist says that Finnair is trying to offer good customer service by telling passengers it might be a manufacturer’s problem with their cancelled or delayed flight, but giving them some compensation anyway – even if they don’t have to, strictly speaking, under their own interpretation of EU regulations.

Ombudsman’s Case

The Consumer Ombudsman says they received hundreds of complaints about Finnair’s compensation practices starting in 2015. They’ve tried negotiating with the airline to find common ground, but the talks went nowhere, and now the Ombudsman’s office is referring the case to the Market Court – something that doesn’t happen often.

“There haven’t been that many cases that have been brought to court in Finland” Consumer Ombudsman’s Senior Legal Adviser Satu Toepfer tells News Now Finland.

“The Ombudsman has a statutory duty to seek to bring an end to infringement, and only after that do we resort to legal proceedings.” she says.

“Under the EU regulation, the airline should always inform the passengers about their rights, and in those circumstances, maybe that information has been misleading” says Toepfer.