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Why is there urgency to reform Air Passenger Rights in Europe?

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From air companies continually challenging the measure’s validity to EU Member State courts refusing to apply its provisions, the EU’s and UK’s Passenger Rights Regulation 261/2004 has been a source of ongoing controversy. While some issues, particularly the impact of the heavily criticized Sturgeon decision, may be easily resolved, other problems, such as the relationship between EU law and the exclusivity provisions of the Montreal Convention of 1999 and industry’s compliance record, remain. When looked at in a broader legal and political context, the conclusions represent a more sophisticated negotiation than is commonly assumed.

Air travel is becoming more popular than it has ever been given the low cost of intra-European flights and the rise in globalisation. This has led to an increase in routes and allowed new operators to enter the market.

The benefits to EU citizens are significant, however, financial forecasting becomes difficult as passengers’ book and throwaway cheap tickets at random, intensive air frame usage may put pressure on already tight maintenance schedules, and small delays can quickly spiral out of hand.

It is worth noting that the European Commission in 2013 proposed an amendment to the regulation. But despite nine years on, we have yet to see reform. The proposals were meant to clarify positions such as the definition of ‘extraordinary circumstances’ with a non-exhaustive list of the types of situations that would apply. Growth of a business is contingent on financial planning but lack of clarity for the airlines has hindered growth plans and given rise to claims management companies seeking to profit from the lack of detail.

When it comes to air travel, many of us take for granted the rights we enjoy. But that was not always the case. Back in the 1970s and 1980s, air passengers had very little protection – and even less rights when it came to luggage. Thankfully, things have gradually improved over the years, but there is still room for improvement. That is why the European Union has proposed several reforms to air passenger rights legislation.

Consumer appetite for air travel was returning, but with the current cancellations’, confidence may wane. Addressing legislation would not only mean that both airlines and consumers would not need to rely on the individual interpretation in courts across Europe, it would also help maintain consumer confidence in air travel.

Air Passenger Rights - What are they?

When flying, everyone has air passenger rights, which are critical safeguards. No matter what the situation, these rights can help to make your flying experience comfortable. Food and drink, luggage, child travel, unaccompanied youngsters traveling without an adult relative/guardian, emergency evacuation rights are among the most prevalent. The first step in ensuring a great flying experience is to know your rights. Passenger rights vary from country to country, but at their core they are simply regulations that protect air travellers, ensuring they are properly cared for and compensated

You are generally protected by some form of airline passenger rights depending on the laws of the country you begin your journey in. It makes no difference which airline you fly with.

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Harry Snook

Harry Snook leads Oracle’s Aviation teams across multiple jurisdictions, ensuring that each of Oracle’s airline clients benefits from a consistently excellent legal service that is...

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