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Regulation 261/2004

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Regulation 261/2004

European Commission’s proposal to revise regulation 261/2004

Current situation

Over the last few years, the European Commission has been under pressure to revise the EU air passenger rights legislation (EU Regulation No 261/2004) due to:

  • the volcanic ash crisis of 2010.
  • the outcome of legal proceeding at the level of the European Court of Justice (the so-called Sturgeon, Wallentin and IATA/ELFAA cases as well as national jurisprudence.
  • recently adopted passenger rights in other modes of transport.
  • discussions at the European Parliament on a Motion for a Resolution on air passenger rights.

The Commission has undertaken a lengthy consultation process and in March 2013, published its legislative proposal.

The proposal includes a right for passengers to compensation in case of a long delay of their flight. It also better defines the concept of ‘extraordinary circumstances’ which will exempt carriers from paying compensation in case of delay or cancellation and allows carriers to limit the total cost of accommodation. Alongside this definition, the Commission proposed a ‘non-exhaustive’ list of extraordinary circumstances, as well as a list of events that will not constitute extraordinary circumstances.

In addition, the proposal establishes ‘trigger points’ that determine as from which length of a delay passengers would have a right to compensation and outlines where airlines should offer re-routing on other carriers following a cancellation of a flight or denied boarding.
AIRE position

AIRE, while it welcomes the fact that passengers are better protected and their needs are better cared for when their flights are disrupted, argues that the new rules should not come at a disproportionate financial cost to airlines.

AIRE members see the following key priorities for their business model:

  • legal clarity: only unambiguous terms should be used in the Annex for extraordinary circumstances.
  • a reasonable and easily understandable trigger points structure for delay compensation.
  • an acknowledgement that airlines must optimise the use of their fleet and that reactionary (sequential) delays should therefore be taken into account in the exemptions to pay out compensation. Indeed, a flight irregularity often creates knock-on effects, i.e. impacts more than one aircraft rotation.

Please see AIRE position paper for more information.
Related documents

AIRE’s position on the European Commission’s proposal to amend EU Regulation 261/2004