The aviation watchdog is to take legal action against five airlines after claims that up to 200,000 passengers a year miss out on compensation for delays.
The Civil Aviation Authority said yesterday that it was pressing ahead with enforcement action against American Airlines, Emirates, Etihad, Singapore Airlines and Turkish Airlines to prevent them dodging payouts.
Under European law, passengers are entitled to compensation of €300, just over £250, for flight delays of three to four hours, and €600 if they are kept waiting longer.
However, the CAA said that the airlines used a loophole to block payments to passengers who missed a connection to an onward flight and then arrived at their final destination late. It was claimed that if the second flight was out of Europe, the EU laws did not apply.
The CAA said its decision followed an investigation into 31 airlines.