EU to review air passenger rights

12 Apr 2011 by BusinessTraveller

The European Commission is to review controversial regulation EU 261, which requires airlines to pay for the care of stranded passengers, following the ash cloud and snow disruption last year.

The regulation requires carriers to pay for the care of passengers within Europe where flights are cancelled, until they can be rebooked on another flight.

But last year’s extraordinary ash cloud and snow disruption - which led to thousands of flights being delayed or cancelled over extended periods of time - forced airlines to pay out millions in compensation.

Many airlines have publicly complained about the enforced payments, and Ryanair recently added a €2 “compensation levy” to all flights to help cover the costs incurred (see online news March 31).

European Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas has now announced his intention to “open a dialogue with stakeholders with a view to revising the EU's air passenger rights Regulation 261”, with a proposal due from the Commission in 2012.

In a statement the Commission said that the review would “look to clarify, in particular, key issues such as limits for liability in case of extraordinary circumstances, compensation thresholds, effective re-routing of passengers, shared risk between operators in the supply chain and other issues where there are weaknesses, including protection in the case of mishandled luggage or re-scheduled flights”.

Kallas said that "we cannot afford to turn a blind eye to the lessons learnt from what passengers and industry suffered during the 2010 ash crisis and snow. The work will start now to effectively plug loopholes, strengthen provisions where there are gaps, and clarify issues for passengers and industry where it is clear that after six years we need to adjust and fine tune.”

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Report by Mark Caswell

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