Greater clarity has been given to the European Union’s passenger rights regulation but more work is required, according to Iata.
The airline trade body was responding to the publication of ‘interpretative guidelines’ on Regulation 261/2004 by the European Commission.
“This is an important stop-gap measure until critical reforms to EU 261/2004 are implemented,” Iata said on Friday.
Director general and chief executive, Tony Tyler, said: "A transparent and level playing field is important for passengers and airlines.
“Today’s interpretative guidelines are an important step to ensure that EU 261 is applied with greater consistency across Europe. The industry’s issues with EU 261, however, remain unsolved.
“Revisions to the regulation proposed in March 2013 would help to provide a better balance between passenger rights and airline obligations. But they are being held in limbo as a result of a deadlocked dispute between Spain and the UK over Gibraltar.”
From the start, EU 261 contained ambiguities which resulted in inconsistencies in how the regulation was applied across Europe, according to Iata.
Several decisions of the European Court of Justice expanded the scope of the regulation and created further inconsistencies when applied.
The interpretative guidelines make clarifications in:
- Conditions for compensation for delays at final destination;
- Conditions under which a diverted flight is considered as a cancellation;
- Confirmation that delays and cancellation are distinct events.
“While the interpretative guidelines will bring greater clarity for passengers and airlines, they are not a substitute for revisions proposed by the EC in March 2013 which will address some of the fundamental flaws in EU 261,” Iata added.
These proposals include:
- Time limitations on the provision of care and assistance in extraordinary circumstances beyond the control of the airline;
- The introduction of "trigger times" for delay compensation that vary by flight length.
Tyler said: "Everybody is frustrated when travel plans are disrupted. Passenger rights should be fair, simple, consistently applied and aligned with global standards.
“Today’s guidelines will help with the consistent application. That’s an important step, but follow-up is needed. Many of the March 2013 proposals are welcome but on top of that, more dialogue is needed to address remaining fundamental problems with the regulation.”
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