30 November, 2023

Member States should seize opportunity of new passenger rights proposals to break deadlock on reform of Air Passenger Rights Regulation

Europe’s leading airlines are urging EU member states to use new proposals on passenger rights to unlock the impasse on a wider reform that has gone nowhere for a decade. This will deliver the necessary clarity for airlines and passengers alike and ensure a smoother and more efficient system for passenger rights.

The European Air Passengers Rights Regulation EC261/2004 establishes common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding, flight cancellations, or long delays of flights. A revised proposal, which the European Commission adopted in March 2013, aims to clarify the definition of 'extraordinary circumstances' in case of flight cancellations or delays, introduce the new right on rerouting and expends the passenger’s right to information about flight disruption. Although Council has held debates on the Commission’s proposal since October 2013 and made some progress on the file, it has not agreed on a general approach for negotiations with the Parliament.

The proposal presented this week is part of a package of legislation that would offer some limited improvements to protecting passengers in Europe. On the one hand, there are positive moves to providing more clarity to passengers and airlines, particularly on multimodal transport and on the obligations on what information intermediaries must provide. But there remains a significant lack of clarity over key aspects of the core air passenger rights legislation, including what constitutes an extraordinary circumstance and under which conditions passengers are entitled to compensation. This is despite the Commission recommending such changes ten years ago.

A4E urges member states to heed the words of Commissioner Vฤƒlean and discuss the original reform proposal together with today’s new proposals to deliver a clear and unified regulation that offers full clarity for passengers and transport operators.

Rania Georgoutsakou, Managing Director of Airlines for Europe, said:  “Today’s proposal is a tentative step in bringing coherence to the tangled web of passenger rights in Europe but it does not address the elephant in the room which is the urgent need for the EU to revise the core regulation on passenger rights known as EU261 whose lack of clarity has led to more European Court of Justice decisions than any other regulation.”

“There is now an opportunity for member states to revive the decade old proposal to reform the EU’s air passenger rights Regulation and in particular lift the fog of uncertainty over what is an extraordinary circumstance. Member states should seize the opportunity to deliver a clear and simple set of rules. This would put an end to the endless growth of claim farms that have been clogging courts and damaging the relationship between passengers and airlines”, she continued.