Dempsey points finger of blame at Aer Lingus
TRANSPORT Minister Noel Dempsey last night pointed the finger of blame at Aer Lingus for failing to provide adequate information to stranded passengers.
He was responding during a special Dail question-and-answer session yesterday to Labour transport spokesman Tommy Broughan, who said it seemed that Ryanair and Aer Lingus had not met their obligations to passengers.
"The claim is that people have been left to their own devices, is that good enough?" he asked.
Mr Dempsey replied: "I have to say I've only got complaints about one airline -- and it wouldn't be the one we'd normally expect in relation to people not being able to get through, and get information from the airline."
Although Mr Dempsey did not name Aer Lingus it is understood that he he was referring to it. He acknowledged that people were entitled to a refund or alternative flight as well as food and accommodation.
"If that isn't happening, and there is, I would agree with the deputy, some evidence that it's not happening in some cases, people should report it to the Commission for Aviation Regulation," he said.
Mr Dempsey said that up to 30,000 Irish people may have been stranded abroad.
However, he said the State would not be "leading the charge" to get the EU to compensate airlines for their heavy losses -- as happened after the September 11 attacks in 2001.
"If the EU decide to provide a compensation package, obviously we'll fight for our share. But we don't have the money and we can't do it," he said.
Mr Dempsey told Fine Gael transport spokesman Fergus O'Dowd that he didn't know what could be done about profiteering -- such as the Irish tourists being charged €1,200 for a flight from Tenerife to Barcelona. But he praised Failte Ireland for agreeing special rates with guesthouse operators for tourists stranded here.
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