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Limitation Periods in Air Transportation in Turkey
The popularity of air travel brings along certain legal issues. How passengers should claim their rights in the face of problems such as flight cancellations, delays, or lost baggage, which mechanisms come into play, and how these processes are operated are frequently encountered issues in civil aviation. In this article, we delve into the procedures when the Air Transport Enterprise violates passenger rights regulations, how to apply to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation and the legal processes to be applied in cases taken to the judiciary.
Applications to The Directorate General of Civil Aviation in Case The Air Carrier Fails to Fulfill its Obligations Under The Regulation
Under passenger rights, passengers may file a complaint to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation. A draft instruction regulating the procedures and principles of the applications to be made in this regard has been published. According to this draft, the passenger must submit the applications in person or by their authorized representative to the air transport operator and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation within six months from the flight date.
Applications for denied boarding, flight delay, flight cancellation, and assignment to a lower/upper class shall first be addressed to the air transport operator operating the flight subject to the complaint. If the air operator fails to provide an adequate response to the complaint, fails to obtain results from the complaint, or fails to respond to the complaint within ten days, the application shall be directed to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.
Limitation Period For Complaints Filed With The General Directorate of Civil Aviation to The Court of Justice
In case of a violation of the provisions of the regulation, passengers reserve their general right to appeal to the Court of Justice. Passengers may claim compensation under SHY – passenger as well as unrecovered or additional material damages and moral damages within the scope of general provisions. In this context, it is possible to claim moral damages under the Turkish Code of Obligations (TCO) for a “tortious act” or “breach of contract” and under the Consumer Protection Law for a “defective service“.
The application limits determining the jurisdiction of consumer arbitration committees are determined by the Ministry of Treasury and Finance every year in terms of the value of consumer disputes, and it is mandatory to apply to the consumer arbitration committee for disputes below the monetary limit before litigation. Accordingly, the general limitation periods for litigation are suspended upon application to the consumer arbitration committees.
Consumers may appeal against the decisions of the Consumer Arbitration Committee within 15 days from the date of notification to the Consumer Arbitration Committee or to the consumer court in the place where the consumer is resident. However, if requested by the parties, the judge may decide to suspend the execution of the decision of the consumer arbitration committee by way of injunction. The decisions of the consumer courts as the objection authority are conclusive.
Although the regulation does not contain a provision on the limitation period for passengers to exercise their rights, passengers may exercise their rights in the event of flight cancellation, flight delay, and refusal to board the flight:
- If the trip is one that can be considered a consumer transaction within the scope of the Law on the Protection of Consumers (which is the most common travel scope in practice), consumers can file a lawsuit for defective services and defective goods under the Consumer Protection Act within the two-year limitation period (Code on The Protection of The Consumer Numbered 6502, Art. 12, Art. 16).
- For compensation claims arising from tort, a lawsuit can be filed within two years from the date of knowledge of the damage and the person responsible for compensation and within ten years from the date of occurrence of the tort (Code of Obligations, Art. 72/1).
- Lawsuits for breach of contract can be filed within ten years (Code of Obligations Art. 125/1, Art. 146).
The limitation period is not regulated in a single article in the relevant laws. There are different limitation periods such as tort limitation period, unjust enrichment limitation period, ten-year general limitation period, and five-year limitation period. In this direction, in the absence of a special regulation, lawsuits arising from breach of contract regarding consumer disputes are considered within the general limitation period of 10 years.
There is no specific time frame for the storage of lost and found items, and it is recommended to keep found items for a period of 90 days, as the responsibility of the carrier companies is in the matter.
Lost baggage compensation covers the fee paid to cover the damage in case the baggage delivered to the airline company is lost, damaged, or delivered late. In such cases, passengers have the right to file a lawsuit within two years from the date of the incident, claiming defective goods or defective service within the scope of Consumer Law (Article 12, Article 16 of The Code on The Protection of The Consumer Numbered 6502).
In the event of injuries or death resulting from a plane crash, passengers may file a compensation claim. In this case, passengers will be entitled to:
- Treatment costs and expenses,
- Freight transportation and baggage claims,
- Material compensation in case of injury,
- In case of death, they can claim compensation for deprivation of support.
Under the Turkish Code of Obligations, passengers may sue for material and immaterial damages against flight carriers within two years from the date they learn of the damage and the person responsible for compensation and within ten years from the date of the occurrence of the tortious act (Art. 72/1 of the Code of Obligations).
Also Read: International Airline Transport.