Passengers on delayed or cancelled flights in or out of Israel will get compensated by the airlines, according to a private bill submitted by MK Ahmed Tibi (Raam-Taal) that was approved in a preliminary reading in the Knesset on Wednesday.
Compensation would be determined based on flight travel distance. Estimated payments for delays to nearby Greece or Turkey would cost airlines 1,250 shekels ($312) per passenger, while destination to Europe could reach up to 2,500 shekels. Fines for flights to the United States and Australia could reach 3,000 shekels.
“The idea for the bill came after seeing delayed passengers sleeping on the floor in the waiting areas in Ben Gurion Airport,” said MK Tibi.
The proposed law also would hold airlines responsible for hotel stays and transportation expenses necessitated by extended travel delays. Passengers delayed a few hours would be entitled to meals according to the length of the delay.
Passengers bumped to a lower seating class due to over-booking would also be entitled to compensation.
Tibi said the bill is intended to protect passengers against "negligence and abuse" by the airlines. Similar regulations already in place in Europe have been effective in getting air carriers to be more precise with departure and arrival times, he added.
Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) said that the government supports the proposal, subject to the condition that the law’s final wording is reviewed for compatibility with the appropriate related government offices. “We need to strike a balance between protecting passenger rights and the airlines’ ability to function reasonably.”
The airline industry has not opposed the bill. Israir representatives said they were committed to protecting passenger rights and that preventing flight delays was in the best interest of everyone.