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EU provides more clarity on air passenger rights

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EU provides more clarity on air passenger rights

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(BRUSSELS) - New guidelines for air passengers flying in the European Union bring more clarity to existing rules and facilitate their enforcement ahead of the summer holidays, says the European Commission.

The new guidelines, which come as millions of Europeans prepare to travel over the summer period, summarise existing case law and consolidate all ongoing practices. Key points for air passengers include:

  • Compensation for a delay: the right to compensation after a delay of three hours at the final destination.
  • Compensation for a missed connecting flight: the right to compensation in case of a long delay on arrival due to missed connecting flights.
  • Extraordinary circumstances: various situations such as technical defects linked to premature malfunction of certain components of an aircraft or aircraft collisions with other aircraft/devices whereby airlines cannot be exempted from the payment of compensation in case of a cancellation and delay.
  • Measures to be taken in extraordinary circumstances: the right to assistance and care during exceptional events such as the ash cloud in 2010.

The guidelines apply pending the adoption and entry into force of new Air passenger legislation proposed by the European Commission in 2013. The objective of this proposal, which is still making its way through the EU Parliament and Council, was to clarify certain aspects of the current Regulation and to introduce new passenger rights where necessary.

EU Air Passenger Rights legislation is seen as among the most advanced in the world, offering a high degree of protection against unforeseen circumstances to people travelling by plane to and from the EU. A number of judgements of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) have, however, affected the content and scope of the legislation since it entered into force in 2005. A clarification was therefore needed for travellers, airlines, and the national authorities, which are in charge of making sure the rules are properly applied at national level.

The Commission says the guidelines will help facilitate air travel for passengers and thus assist air carriers and their agents to improve the application of the Regulation. They will also assist national authorities with the enforcement of the Regulation and ensure an equal level playing field for all air carriers. They will provide a real added value at a time of increased travel activity at the outset of the holiday period and until a new legal framework enters into force. "All EU citizens travelling by plane should receive the level of protection they are entitled to," said the Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc.

Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights entered into force in February 2005.

The Aviation Strategy for Europe is one of the initiatives listed in the Commission Work Programme for 2015. The goal of the Aviation Strategy is to strengthen the competitiveness and sustainability of the entire EU air transport value network.

For more information:

Air passenger rights


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