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Claims for flight delay compensation are “out of control” and putting “pressure on safety”, according to the head of the European Regions Airline association (ERA).
Simon McNamara, ERA director general, said: “There is a huge growth market in claims [and] the liability could be enough to close an airline.
“There is almost no room for an airline to avoid paying compensation for a delay except for weather. It’s getting out of control and there is a link to safety.”
A judge at Reading County Court ruled in January that a lightning strike on an aircraft was not an ‘extraordinary circumstance’ under EU Regulation 261 on air passengers’ rights, despite a legal requirement for safety checks after a lightning strike, and passengers are therefore entitled to compensation for delays.
McNamara said: “There is pressure on safety with the ruling on a lightning strike. We have anecdotal evidence from members. We’ve expressed concern to the European Commission, as has Iata.”
Airlines want Regulation 261 revised to clarify rules on compensation but the revision process is stalled by a dispute between the UK and Spain over Gibraltar. Now the ERA is concerned a proposed EU Aviation Strategy, unveiled last month, will confirm court rulings extending compensation rights.
McNamara said: “We worry proposals to develop guidelines on Regulation 261 may rubber-stamp recent court rulings and slow progress on revising the regulation.”
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