Yorkshire-based airliner Jet2 are among the companies been criticised for failing to give passengers information about their rights during disruption / Getty images

The Civil Aviation Authority has warned two airliners to pay compensation when it is due

British and European airlines have been told to play by the passengers’ rights rules or face prosecution. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has warned Yorkshire-based Jet2 and Wizz Air of Hungary to pay compensation when it is due for delayed and cancelled flights. Jet2 has also been criticised, along with Aer Lingus, for failing to give passengers information about their rights during disruption.

All EU-based airlines must adhere the European rules on passengers’ rights, known as EC261. These stipulate a duty of care in the event of long delays and cancellations, however caused, as well as cash compensation when the airline is responsible. Under English law, claims can be made for delays up to six years ago.

Airlines regard the rules as excessively generous to the passenger, and warn that compensation pay-outs will lead to higher fares. They have sought to defend, largely unsuccessfully, a series of court cases brought by passengers over technical delays and retrospective claims.

Evidence seen by The Independent shows that some airlines are still rejecting apparently valid claims, or paying in vouchers rather than cash.

For the past six months the CAA has been studying individual airlines’ policies and demanding changes to bring them into line with the law.

Jet2 and Wizz Air have been threatened with legal action for what the CAA says is an unjustified imposition of a two-year deadline on claims, and for failing to pay out for technical delays.

The CAA's chief executive, Andrew Haines, said: “While we have no power to secure redress for individual consumers, we are determined to stand up for passengers and are taking this action to safeguard their rights, making sure all airlines consistently provide their passengers with the support and compensation they are legally entitled to.”

The passengers’ rights rules also apply to non-EU carriers when they are flying from European airports.