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Saint Lucia Minister Welcomes Plan For US Airlines To Compensate Stranded Passengers – St. Lucia Times

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Saint Lucia’s Commerce Minister has welcomed United States President Joe Biden’s bid to have US airlines compensate passengers affected by flight delays or cancellations for which the carriers are responsible.

“I think it’s a good step,” Minister Emma Hippolyte told St Lucia Times.

Hippolyte said it is a required policy, especially given events during the Christmas season when delays and cancellations hit thousands of US flights.

Officials blamed the ‘Christmas chaos’ on winter storms and unique airline operational issues.

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The Saint Lucia Commerce Minister recalled that many passengers were sitting at airports due to booking system breakdowns and re-routing.

“Immediately that you have legislation forcing the airlines to compensate for something they have control over would really cause them to take time to invest in reliable systems and pay more attention to the passengers,” Hippolyte asserted.

She noted that Saint Lucia recently passed the Consumer Protection Act, which ensured a mechanism to compensate consumers or settle disputes.

Hippolyte declared that consumers have rights.

“And as governments, we have a responsibility to take steps to protect them. We also want to this this in a system where there is fairness for the provider of the service or the good and the consumer,” she explained.

The former President of the National Consumer Association, Kingsley St. Hill, also welcomed the Joe Biden move to get US airlines to compensate travellers stranded due to the carriers’ fault.

“It was time that the powerful US joined the EU and UK in holding the airlines accountable for their faults,” St. Hill told St Lucia Times.

The rules proposed by President Biden would require airlines to pay impacted passengers beyond a ticket refund if the carrier is responsible for the disruption.

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Officials said it might involve paying for meals and hotels for stranded travellers.

Should the measure be implemented, it would become the first in the United States.

Reuters said the delay compensation rules would be proposed by the end of the year, but it could take years to finalise rules.

The news agency also reported that some carriers privately question whether the Transport Department has the legal authority to mandate compensation for delays.

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