Jim Higgins, Fine Gael MEP for the North West, has condemned the European-wide lack of regulations regarding the transportation of musical instruments and the abuse of airlines’ position of power on the transport of the instruments. "Recent rules from airlines regarding hand luggage have been imposed with mixed intentions of greater efficiency on flights but also the emphasis is on financial gain to the airlines concerned. However, gross abuse of the position they hold in relation to carry-on baggage can not be tolerated," Mr Higgins stated.
Mr Higgins was responding to both representations made to him from Michael Burke, President of the European Council of Artists, and the recent development when musicians were charged over £1,300 to bring their valuable violins on board. He was informed that some airlines are now insisting an extra seat is purchased for musical instruments as small as a violin, whilst some are insisting they be put in the hold. The instruments, many very valuable, can not withstand the cold temperatures experienced in the hold. The only alternative offered to them is to purchase an extra seat even though the instruments would easily fit in the overhead lockers. As it stands there are no standardised guidelines governing these practices.
“This is particularly worrying for professional musicians who depend on their musical instruments being in optimum condition. It is ridiculous that there are no guidelines for carrying these fragile goods which can be worth up to thousands of Euro," Mr Higgins said. "I have raised this issue with the European Commission and look forward to hearing the response." Mr Higgins also pledged to raise the issue amongst his fellow committee members of the Transport and Tourism Committee of the European Parliament in Brussels.