Delayed passengers ‘owed £500k’ caught up in row between Maleth and P&O Cruises

Maleth delay compensation
By Linsey McNeill
13/06/2024
Home » Delayed passengers ‘owed £500k’ caught up in row between Maleth and P&O Cruises

Customers of P&O Cruises could be collectively owed around half a million pounds compensation for delayed Maleth Aero flights last winter, according to the BBC.

An investigation by The One Show found that five Maleth flights to and from the Caribbean were delayed by more than three hours, triggering compensation claims under UK law of up to £500 per passenger.

However, the Maltese airline is refusing to pay out because it says P&O Cruises’ parent Carnival, which contracted the flights, owes it money for food and drink supplied onboard. 

This is disputed by P&O Cruises, which says it is considering legal action to recover monies it says it’s owed by Maleth.

In a statement to the BBCMaleth said it is ‘fully prepared to pay UK 261 claims determined to be due to Carnival customers but requires full compensation due from Carnival for the flights in order to do so’.

It added: “At present, Maleth has not been paid for onboard catering or alcoholic beverage service, among other costs. 

“These costs were not included in the contract with Carnival but Maleth stepped in to cover them to accommodate passengers and minimize the discomfort Carnival customers would have had without those services.”

It went on to say that it believes the amount it is owed by Carnival will cover the compensation claims owed under UK Regulation 261.

It added: “Maleth is committed to paying valid UK 261 claims and has in fact proposed to Carnival that it will open an escrow account with a third party to receive Carnival’s payment, from which UK 261 claims that are determined to be due will be directly disbursed.”

P&O Cruises no longer works with Maleth, having chosen different airlines for its flights to the Caribbean next winter after both agents and customers complained about the service received from the Maltese carrier.

The aircraft used by Maleth on the Caribbean flights offered only economy service, with no inflight entertainment. There were also several technical issues, causing long delays for some passengers, and one plane-load was forced to spend Christmas in Bermuda after their flight home was diverted during a tropical storm.

Maleth told the BBC that even though it did offer aircraft with business class cabins and inflight entertainment, Carnival had ‘contracted a high-density seating aircraft, with no in-flight entertainment system, and no catering nor alcohol service included’. 

It said: “This proved to be very much at odds with Carnival customers’ expectations of a more premium luxury passenger operation,” adding that public pressure forced it ‘to try to make additional services available to Carnival customers, the nature of which made for a disappointing and disruptive experience related to these services reported by customers’.

It said this saddled Maleth with a ‘significant amount of unforeseen costs’ for which it hasn’t been reimbursed. 

A P&O Cruises spokesperson told Travel Gossip: “We are very disappointed that despite being legally responsible to do so, Maleth Aero has not paid some guests compensation under Regulation 261 for flight delays experienced by those guests when joining or departing from one of our holidays.

“The law exists to make airlines responsible and hold them to account for delays or cancellations incurred due to their fault, and therefore Maleth Aero must pay the compensation to guests and we would encourage them to do so promptly. 

“Guests who are still waiting for compensation should contact the Civil Aviation Authority, which may be able to offer advice.”

They said when the cruise line entered the contract with Maleth it specifically requested aircraft with full in-flight entertainment, but it was told there was none available for its required passenger capacity. 

“In-flight catering was also a core element agreed by both parties, as it would provide for all our guests on its charter aircraft,” added the spokesperson.

P&O Cruises said it was ‘very unhappy’ with the service provided by Maleth, adding that it ‘was not up to the standard agreed and certainly was not what it would want for its P&O Cruises guests’.

It added that it would not be using Maleth Aero in the future. 

It said it has paid all monies due to Maleth but added it was looking at legal action to recover monies owed to it by Maleth.

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