Posted on: 29 September 2010 by Ross McSweeny
At its Annual General Meeting in Brussels, the European Low Fares Airline Association (ELFAA) made a strong call for proportionality in the burdens placed on airlines with respect to passenger rights relative to fare paid and a level playing field with competitive transport modes.
Consumer affairs, and specifically passenger rights, were the principal focus of the Association’s AGM, and the airlines held a lively discussion on the Europeam Commission’s possible review of Regulation 261 on Air Passenger Rights in light of the volcanic ash crisis.
The eruption of the Icelandic volcano in April was a true natural disaster and protection of citizens against natural disasters is the responsibility of the Member States, stated ELFAA. Yet during the volcanic ash crisis, the EU Institutions and Member States transferred this onus to airlines, hiding behind the Air Passenger Rights Regulation which was introduced to penalise airlines for isolated practices, such as denied boarding due to overbooking or cancellation of flights for commercial reasons. This cost the European low-fare airline industry an estimated €200 million.
John Hanlon, secretary general of ELFAA, declared, “The Air Passenger Rights legislation should never have been applied to circumstances that are patently beyond the control of airlines. ELFAA and its members look forward to constructive engagement with EU decision-makers during the review to ensure that this unfortunate scenario is not repeated and that the best outcome for both airlines and passengers is achieved.”